Celebrations to launch the £2 million Phase 2 workspaces at Cornwall’s nationally acclaimed Krowji creative hub may be on pause for the moment – but artists and creative businesses are flocking to occupy the light, bright, newly completed studios.
Undeterred by bad weather and lockdowns, Jewell Construction have delivered the impressive final stage of Krowji’s Percy Williams Building which sees a further 21 studios, linked by a bridge to the £3.7 million Phase 1 building which opened in 2015. They add coveted space for another 40 people to the 200-strong Krowji community of artists and creatives working on the site of Redruth’s Old Grammar School.
Taking the helm is Creative Kernow’s new CEO Dr Fiona Wotton, successor to Ross Williams who retires after 29 years with Creative Kernow steering and developing the Krowji vision over the last fifteen. Under Ross’s leadership, the organisation has grown from its beginnings as a popular campaign set up to save Truro’s old City Hall in the 1980s into Cornwall’s key creative sector support organisation with 40 staff and a turnover of £2 million a year.
Fiona joined Creative Kernow’s senior management team at Krowji six years ago after building a successful track record in charity work including management roles with Tate St Ives, the University of East London and Macmillan Cancer Care. She is a director of Cornwall Wildlife Trust and was awarded a Clore Fellowship for the arts and culture sectors in 2018.
“With all the challenges that 2020 has sent our way it is wonderful to be ending the year with the opening of our stunning new spaces and seeing tenants moving in and getting straight to work,” says Fiona. “Krowji is more than just a workspace: it is a living, breathing community of creatives who support each other, collaborate and share expertise on projects that have far reaching impact for Cornwall’s economy, health and wellbeing and social cohesion.”
Phase 2 of the state-of-the-art building has been made possible by grants from the European Regional Development Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council.
Fourteen of the twenty one new spaces have been taken already by current Krowji tenants looking to upsize, downsize or move from small, shared spaces into self-contained ones. There are also a number of new tenants taking up studios of various shapes and sizes. Artist Trudie Moore is one of the first tenants opting for a move from a smaller, shared studio into a bigger, lighter, self-contained space which gives her room to work with her paintings and 3D installations on a much larger scale.
“It’s a joy to have this beautiful space of my own within Krowji’s diverse creative environment,” she says. “I try to be as environmentally conscious as possible and so the sustainable credentials of the new building and having a high quality, warm, dry and clean space for my work is important. It’s the dedicated quiet space I need to develop my Fine Art practice at a higher level.” “Quiet” doesn’t mean isolated within the Krowji community and as lockdown lifts the eagerly anticipated Stones Café is opening as the beating heart of the creative hub.
Rosie and Oliver Kingdon established Stones Bakery in 2007 in Falmouth with the aim of creating a business that was part of the local community. At Krowji they have created another warmly inviting space with a welcoming atmosphere, producing delicious products using high quality ingredients that has been key to their success: “The lockdowns this year caused a few postponements so we are excited finally to be able to extend our approach to the creative community at Krowji – as well as widening our welcome to people visiting or living nearby,” says Rosie.
Moving straight into their new Krowji workspace is Doorstep Creative, set up by Emily Sorrell and Charlotte Higgins to connect creatives in Cornwall and supported for the first year of rental by the Cultivator Graduate Start-up Studio Award.
“After two years in operation it feels like a real milestone to move into a beautiful workspace that isn’t also a café, library, university or kitchen,” says Emily. Charlotte explains: “We have been designing tools, hosting events and facilitating projects that bring Cornwall’s diverse and widespread creative industries together and we have just begun our 6 month digital takeover of Cornwall Design Forum. To be beginning this project in such a creative hotspot feels very timely and we’re looking forward to meeting some more of our neighbours, both at Krowji and further afield in Cornwall.”
Meaning “workshop” in a rough translation from Cornish, Krowji has come a long way since Ross Williams and the dedicated Creative Kernow charity team breathed new life into the 1907 Redruth grammar school buildings 15 years ago. The completion of Krowji’s Phase 2 expansion secures its place among the top creative communities in the country, remaining true to its roots as an iconic Cornish arts hub and working home for artists, “makers” and businesses as well as Cornwall’s key arts-sector agencies.
To discover more about the Krowji journey which has more than doubled the original space from historic to state of the art studios, and to find out more about Krowji, its work and partners and its flagship Percy Williams Building project please visit www.krowji.org.uk/about/redevelopment