PHOENIX CRAFT GALLERY, ST MARY'S
PUBLISHED: 17:55 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:55 30 August 2017
Photograph by Emily Whitfield-Wicks St.meva 9 Beacon road Bodmin Cornwall PL31 1AR Mob.07841 293030
Phoenix Craft Workshops and Gallery in St Mary’s, is a place to view and buy the arts and craft works
At first glance it seems strange to find an art and craft gallery in the middle of an industrial estate. Surely somewhere more picturesque or on a busy street in the centre of town would be more normal? However, and Gallery on Porthmellon Industrial Estate, St Mary’s, is not just a place to view and buy the work, but a thriving hub of industry
Sub-divided into several rooms, artists and craftsmen do their own thing, whether it is stained glass, jewellery making, oil painting, lino cuts or decoupage. Visitors are welcomed, but are under no illusions that they have entered just another shop, as the artists continue with their work whilst chatting and serving customers.
Oriel Hicks opened Phoenix in 1991, specifically as a space where she could make her stained glass windows, glass giftware and jewellery. “I didn’t want to employ people to fill the rest of the rooms,” says Oriel, “So I became a sort of landlady’. Artists pay rent to use a room and as long as it pays the mortgage, I’m happy. I think it helps small businesses who couldn’t find somewhere to work.”
'Phoenix Craft Workshops and Gallery is quite an adventure, and it is easy to spend several hours wandering from room to room, chatting with the artists and watching them work. The only problem is choosing what to buy, as there is so much beautiful and varied art and craft work on show.'
Landlady and tenants admit to being very fussy who uses the rooms. “We all have to get on with each other,” continues Oriel, “And we all help one another too. If one of us is away, we know we can trust the others to look after and sell our work in our absence.”
Apart from making glass coasters, wall hangings and dishes, and smaller items such as key rings, earrings and Christmas decorations, Oriel makes various leaded-light commissions which can be seen in settings both on the islands and the mainland. She is currently making a stained glass window for the church on St Agnes, and last year completed a window for the Cornwall Children’s Hospice, Little Harbour. “I had so much fun making that, as I included lots of tiny creatures which children were encouraged to find, like a stained glass Where’s Wally’ picture,” says Oriel. “I also made a stained glass window for St Mary’s Parish Church, depicting St Christopher. The saint is in the likeness of my father and the child he is carrying is my son.”
Others working at Phoenix include Paula Smith, whose room is filled with her silver, beaded and copper jewellery. She is joined by husband Jeff’s clocks and boot pullers, and 9-year-old daughter Ffion’s jewellery, with the family working together under the name of Scillysmiths. Paula runs daily workshops where adults and children can make a silver pendant or ring.
Two very different artists use two other rooms. Imogen Bone paints in oils, capturing the colours of the Scilly landscape in an impressionist style. She also makes unique jewellery, which is carved from sea washed pot-buoys found on the beaches. Similarly inspired by Scilly, Vickie Heaney makes cards and pictures from lino-cuts, the pictures also being transferred onto mugs and tiles.
The fifth tenant is Rhiannon Wallace, who moved her work to Phoenix just before Easter. She describes her work as shabby-chic decoupage’, and she works mainly with alphabet letters, which can either be free-standing or hung on walls. Working under the name Rhicraft, Rhiannon moved to the mainland to study and then travelled the globe, before the pull of the islands drew her back home.
As if this were not enough, customers are invited to visit the upstairs gallery where they can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee whilst perusing a varied selection of Scilly arts and crafts, from books and clothes, to paintings and toys.
Phoenix Craft Workshops and Gallery is quite an adventure, and it is easy to spend several hours wandering from room to room, chatting with the artists and watching them work. The only problem is choosing what to buy, as there is so much beautiful and varied art and craft work on show.