Only permanent gallery in the North for learning disability artists to be created

ArtWorks’ Liz Carrington, Wake Smith Solicitors’ Laura Sanderson and ArtWorks’ Kayleigh Cruikshank outside ArtWorks new project in Sheffield

ArtWorks South Yorkshire is to create the only permanent gallery in the North for artists with learning disabilities with a new project in Sheffield’s Kelham Island.

The not for profit arts organisation, which inspires adults with learning disabilities and autism to achieve their potential and develop important life skills through creative workshops and placements, has purchased a currently unused unit on Penistone Road at Kelham Island.

The new gallery and art studio, which will be transformed by the end of the year, will add to Artworks’ three other sites across Sheffield and Rotherham, giving greater opportunities to offer artistic activities plus film, dance, drama and health and well-being initiatives.

Sheffield solicitors Wake Smith advised on the lease and mortgage for ArtWorks, which currently employs 25 staff, with the new gallery and additional art studio creating another five jobs.

Kayleigh Cruikshank, ArtWorks director, said: “ArtWorks aims to challenge peopleʼs perceptions of learning disabilities through celebrating creativity and the ambition of our artists, which is an ever-growing group of now more than 90 people.

“We focus on achievement, self belief, collaborative practice and teamwork, while helping our artists to play an active role within their community.

“This will be the first time we will create a permanent gallery exclusively for our artists and this will be our biggest project to date. There are currently  no windows, no doors, no water or power, so the transformation will be immense. It is such an exciting project and will serve our own artists but also from across the world.”

Kayleigh and fellow director Liz Carrington started ArtWorks in 2015 with £200 profit from a car boot sale.

Six years later the group offers activities with professional artists specialising in different mediums from painting and sculpture, to film, photography, animation and performance.

It also organises film and animation sessions, stages exhibitions of work, organises volunteer placements at a number of local charities, runs extensive life skills programmes including cooking, shopping and budgeting sessions and offers access to fitness and well-being sessions, including free swimming lessons and gym time.

ArtWorks is currently working with the UEFA Women’s Euros this year on a video with Sheffield female football players for a public competition. It will be inviting Sheffield artwork to go on show in the city centre in response to the video, to celebrate the competition.

In February, a vinyl by the ArtWorks artists and inspired by artist John Hoyland based on bubbles as a symbol of joy and celebration of life, will be installed in the Millennium Gallery, plus they are working with Yorkshire Artspace on a residency programme for an artist takeover in June.

Laura Sanderson, associate in Wake Smith’s commercial property team, advised on the lease and the mortgage for the property. She said: “We were really pleased to provide the legal support on the lease requirements and mortgage for ArtWorks.  This is such an inspiring company helping so many talented people realise their artistic potential and we cannot wait to see the gallery once it opens.”

Kayleigh added: “Wake Smith Solicitors were really fantastic. We have never purchased a property before and didn’t know what we were doing. Laura Sanderson supported us throughout the transaction. She explained everything and made us much more confident and aware of the process.”

ArtWorks is always on the lookout for like-minded individuals and companies to work on collaborative projects. Email info@artworks-sy.co.uk for further information on projects and volunteering.

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