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Room 13 in Caol is trialling a block of Studio Access sessions for artists working within Lochaber and beyond.
The ‘Other Artists Thursdays’ – OAT days – hope to plant the seed for greater creative connections within the local community.
The studio’s large windows look out onto the Ben and out over Caol bay, purpose-built to let in swathes of light from the East and South, and making it the ideal creative space even in the darker winter months.
For many Lochaber artists, regular access to a working environment such as this was previously not possible. The OAT days, which are available every second Thursday until June, will allow artists to access studio facilities, network, learn new skills, and learn more about Room 13.
Ali Berardelli, a Fort William artist and board member of Room 13, told Lochaber Times: ‘There’s a thriving creative community within Lochaber and Room 13 has studio space and facilities available now to visual artists and designers who find sharing working practice valuable and enjoyable.’
The studio also has a range of equipment available for hire, including an etching press. Those already familiar with the equipment can be given a brief introduction, or there are also opportunities to attend a day-long workshop in its use.
Ms Berardelli also teaches on the creative courses at West Highland College, and students from several of the courses offered there have been using Room 13 as a drawing and printmaking resource.
She said: ‘The success of the students’ experiences at Room 13 encouraged the staff and board of trustees to open up the space to the Lochaber Life Drawing group, which meets monthly.’
As a result, artists can now also rent the Room 13 studios to run creative workshops. Since moving to the studio, the Life Drawing group has been attended by consistently large numbers, demonstrating the interest within the community and further afield, with participants also attending from Oban, Inverness, Mull and beyond.
Some of the senior pupils involved in Room 13 have also been attending the sessions. For Room 13 Artist-in-Residence Richard Bracken, this is one of the key benefits of opening up the studio in this way, as one of the missions of Room 13 is to give young people access to creative opportunities that build confidence and develop skills relevant to their own aspirations.
He said: ‘We are keen to widen the network of Room 13, to involve the wider local community as well as the young people and artistic community.’
Ms Berardelli added: ‘As a board member of Room 13 International, I am delighted to see the reach of the charity extending from young people and children to adults who have a desire to continue to make and share in the process of creative practice.
‘The studio being made available also brings valuable income to the charity thus allowing the continued service to the Caol community.’
‘As an international charity the Room 13 network is continually evolving and this development within the base at Caol encourages further creative education across all sectors of our community.’
Artists who wish to use the space or get involved in any way are encouraged to get in touch with Room 13.