Check out the Castle Quay art pop-up trying to help everyone

Suzette Neptune and Blue Watson in the Work of Art pop-up space in Castle Quay Shopping Centre, with some of Patrick Currier's T-shirts behind them
Suzette Neptune and Blue Watson in the Work of Art pop-up space in Castle Quay Shopping Centre, with some of Patrick Currier's T-shirts behind them

Castle Quay Shopping Centre has recently welcomed a new pop-up project championing local artists and celebrating their creations.

Work of Art is a collective of locally based artists who have come together to create high quality arts, media and performance experiences that everyone can get involved in at Castle Quay Shopping Centre.

It’s especially exciting as it’s a totally unique town-centre-take-over-pop-up.

Work of Art project leader Suzette Neptune

Project leader Suzette Neptune said: “Work of Art is one of a number of creative, local projects I’m leading this year.

“It’s especially exciting as it’s a totally unique town-centre-take-over-pop-up.

“Work of Art is a collaboration between local professional artists who all have a special relationship to the area.

“Even more wonderful is that the whole project is about bringing the community together with creativity.”

Sponsored by the Banbury Business Improvement District (BID) and Castle Quay, Work of Art officially opened its doors in an empty unit opposite JD Sports on April 22, for a six-week period.

The unique project was created to bring the arts into the shopping centre, and to offer the community a creative experience inside the retail-based destination.

Work of Art draws upon the idea that every single piece of art tells a story and instead of simply a shop, offers visitors an experience that will take them on a creative journey.

Castle Quay manager Paul Jackson added: “We’re delighted to be supporting Work of Art alongside Banbury BID and it’s great to welcome the new pop-up project here at Castle Quay.

“Shoppers at the centre can expect a huge range of arts all offered by lots of incredibly talented local professional artists.”

Focused on using the arts as a transformative tool, Work of Art is to offer a unique experience to the community, with the opportunity to buy original art and craft work, alongside experiencing arts and creative work.

Work of Art will see seven core local artists showcased, with several associate artists and performers adding to the space in many different and creative ways.

The pop-up project is also welcoming local artists to support the collective and become part of the creative space.

BID manager Joanne Holland added: “The BID is pleased to sponsor such an innovative programme, events such as these bring something unique to our town.

“People want more than just retail, they want an experience, this certainly hits the spot!”

Variety means there’s something for everyone

It can be a cliché but there is quite honestly something for every taste and passion at Work of Art, pretty much every day too.

The pop-up project will host drop-in workshop sessions, have a lunchtime oasis, arts clubs and activities for special interests, arts tutorials, mentoring, time for sensory exploration and science – plus lots of activities and events.

Visitors can watch, listen, take part, book sessions, get advice or just find a quiet corner. Work of Art invites everyone from the local community to be a spectator or to get involved.

Visitors can expect to see, hear and experience a wide range of varied original art and creative work, from poetry, dance, music, puppetry, theatre, circus to film, media and all sorts of live, visual, design, craft, literary and creative arts.

Work of Art’s programme of activities and events is supported by exhibitions and performance from truly diverse local artists.

A range of unique, original art and creative work will be on sale as well as opportunities for visitors and guests to commission original work or book events and activities.

Work of Art welcomes young people, families, older people, and all Banbury’s diverse communities to come enjoy the space.

The project continues to fundraise for the programme of work, encouraging local businesses and individuals who can support the project, to help cover material costs.

This will let Work of Art offer low cost high value creative experiences that everyone in the community can enjoy.

Suzette said: “It’s kind of a living space that’s about sharing creativity with people and a space where you can find people but also showcase your work, make connections and learn something else, it’s been amazing so far.”

Array of different talents on show

The nine artists involved in Work of Art all bring something different to the creative table. From a career in dance to selling homemade jewellery on Etsy, each person is unique but has a shared interest in the arts and bringing people together. They are all from Banbury or the surrounding area, showing just how creative the town and region is. Starting with Suzette, she said she has been involved in the arts since she was three in any form you can imagine. She will be running workshops on meditation as well as hosting a dancing free-for-all on Monday (May 6). Meanwhile Kate Ladd has brought a beautiful array of colourful flowers to Work of Art. The florist runs The Greenery which ‘strives for seasonality and sustainability to celebrate the best of the natural world’. Inter-disciplinary artist Claudia Collett uses thousand-year-old techniques using multiple layers to create her work, while Tim Cherry-Jones combines puppetry with comedy and has worked with major production companies. He has started a mural which will spread along the side of the room by the end of the six weeks. Hayley Stevenson uses liquid concrete and anything she can find to make her stunning jewellery. The mixture goes into a mould before she throws everything from gold pieces to fabric before turning it into something to wear. The most dominant display in the room when the Banbury Guardian visited was Patrick Currier’s collection of T-shirts from his Strange Clothing company. Patrick is also an illustrator and digital designer. Painter Emma Louise teaches art at all levels, especially challenging young people, and is involved with street performance group Banbury Presents. Lastly Danielle Cocomazzi is Work of Art’s composer and musician in residence and will be playing throughout the next few weeks. Suzette said: “All of us in here have always been involved in the arts and it’s nice to be approached to put it together – we’re really excited.”

Helping shoppers through the art

The people behind Work of Art and Castle Quay both believe the shopping centre can mean more to people than just shops. Suzette says she is very passionate about the impact art can have on people, in a relaxing or joyous way but also the way it can heal and bring communities together, which shops share. She said: “For the shopping centre, it’s about re-imagining what shopping centres can be and what they can mean to people and the community beyond just buying things and having a thing where people just walk in, buy something, and walk out again. They want to become hubs for people to come to find whatever it is they need, that old market place kind of feeling that we have with the actual Market Place and bringing it into here. So we’re the first initiative like this, trying to bring that aspect of the arts into Castle Quay.”

For loads more information, visit Work of Art’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Work-of-Art-Banbury-663595457410614