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Full house at launch event for Makers' Yard

Published on 18 March 2013

ARTISTS, designers and craft experts, who have all recently set up at Leicester’s award-winning Makers’ Yard, will be joined by the City Mayor at the official launch of the new workspace on Monday (Mar 18).

Maker’s Yard is the result of a £1million refurbishment of the 1860’s Grade II listed former Charnwood Hosiery factory in Rutland Street.

It now offers 10 studio workspaces designed specifically to support small and growing creative businesses and entrepreneurs.

Redevelopment work was completed in February and the first tenants moved in soon after that. Now, nine of the studios are occupied with creative businesses ranging from glassware and fine art painting to high fashion jewellery brands and handcrafted accessories for pets.

The project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Leicester City Council and has already won an award from Leicester Civic Society for restoration of an historic building.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I am incredibly proud of what has have been achieved at Makers' Yard. It has been a privilege to watch the progress as the building was restored from a derelict factory into a really quite beautiful building that celebrates its heritage.

"Buildings like this are a valuable link to the city's industrial past. It is very fitting that we can breathe new life into it as a base for emerging creative businesses at the heart of the city's cultural quarter.

"I want to thank the project team for their effort and passion in delivering this fantastic project. It is a symbol of our commitment to supporting local creative industry and I wish the new tenants every success in their business endeavours."

The businesses now based at Maker's Yard include textile workshops by Ruth Singer Studio, handmade pet accessories by Arthur Loves to Walk, furniture-maker and woodworker Harris Chapman, The City Studio ceramics and glassware, Felt 4 Art Sake, Jamie Coles photography, fine art painter Emma Jackson, LB Concepts fashion jewellery and accessories, paper artist Lisa Godrich, and fashion designer Gurtej Matharu.

Sushila Pillai, of Felt for Art Sake, said: "This is an ideal place for me. I needed a relatively large space to do big works. It is also really important to me to be part of a community of artists. Makers' Yard provides all of that and at the same time it feels like working in someone's nice big house."

Michaela Hawes has set up The City Studio to produce ceramics and glassware with her husband Graeme. She said: “Makers' Yard is a really exciting thing to be a part of. It can be quite difficult to work as an artist when the people around you don't really have that understanding about what you do. But here, it's just a really fantastic environment of creative people and it's a really beautiful building. We're looking forward to welcoming people to our workshops and sharing that with them."

Eve Lucron is half of the creative partnership LB Concepts, a high fashion jewellery and accessory brand that has made Makers’ Yard its base after five years in London. She said: "I'm originally from Leicester and its really interesting to come back. There are so many things I never saw before. There are beautiful buildings and lots of manufacturing. This is the perfect place for us to expand. We could never do that in London, but we're still only an hour away. And it's only five hours to Paris."

The Makers' Yard building is believed to be the earliest known unpowered hosiery factory to have survived in the East Midlands.

It has been sensitively restored to retain much of its history and original character, and features from its industrial past, such as huge metal pulley wheels, have been retained and much of the original structure revealed.

The award-winning design was developed by local architects maber working with the city council's regeneration and conservation teams.

Joe Player, project architect at maber, said: "These buildings tend to be a labour of love for everyone involved. Ultimately, that care, attention and dedication helps justify the investment by our clients. Makers' Yard will make a significant contribution to regeneration of this area. We are pleased to see it already recognised with an award from a local civic society and we are very excited about seeing the building in use."

Makers' Yard is managed by LCB Depot, which provides workspaces and business support to over 150 creative businesses in the city. Businesses taking on studios at Makers' Yard benefit from a free package of business support as well as networking, sales and exhibition opportunities.

Julia Hamer, marketing and service development manager at LCB Depot, said: "We're super excited about the success of Makers' Yard. We've got a really amazing building that is now home to an emerging community of artists and really dynamic entrepreneurs right in the heart of our Cultural Quarter.

"It's unbelievable to have seen the transformation that's taken place over the last 18 months. Now, to be able to celebrate its opening with the people who have helped make it possible and the artists and designers who will bring it to life is just fantastic.

"We're looking forward to signing off the tenancy on the final of our ten studios in the next couple of weeks."

And members of the public will have an opportunity to see inside Makers' Yard for themselves on Saturday, April 20, when the businesses are hosting an open day. The event runs from 12noon until 4pm.

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Notes to editors: Media are invited to join the official launch of Makers' Yard on Monday, March 18, from 10am until 12noon. Speeches will take place from 11am. Interview and photo opportunities with City Mayor Peter Soulsby, members of the project team and businesses based at the new workspace will be available.