Union StUnion St

By Matt

What will you be doing at Union St?

I have recently graduated from an art degree in manchester and moved to sheffield. I am hoping that through working at Union Street I can start to build my network and community of people in Sheffield; a key part of my practice is based on community. Over the coming months I am looking to develop my project, Patchwork Stories into a social enterprise or community interest company. The project explores how storytelling and collective creation can be used to help people in come together during times of struggle of difficulty. I am an artist, a weaver and a storyteller. Following graduate and a move to a new city I don’t know quite what that is going to look like for me, I hope that Union Street can help me figure it out!

How did you get into this area of work?

I have known I wanted to be an artist since I was very young. Of course, for many years I didn’t really know what that meant…I have kept a sketchbook since I was about 10 and started making clothes with my Granny when I was 14. I started a foundation degree in 2012, thinking I would do textiles or fashion design. However through the course I found that people and stories were what really excited me – and that while I use a lot of textiles in my work, I didn’t want to be restricted by only using textiles. While I was on my foundation I started working with my Mum, a drama practitioner, on a join project called Patchwork Stories. It was born out of a dream and a conversation. Art and creative, community work has always been something that is important to my family. Working with my Mum has been an important part of my progression as an artist – it pushed me to develop professionalism and empathy as working with my mum wasn’t always easy! However, it also meant I was able to try things that seemed out of my comfort zone more easily, as I always know my mum will be there to help and guide me. I am know starting to develop the project further on my own. I have just finished a three year degree called Interactive Arts, it is an unspecialised fine arts course that encourages students to explore as many art forms as possible, with an emphasis on participatory and community work. During that time I ran lots of workshops, using weavings and printmaking with my friend Ting Waterhouse…and I reapplied this was how I wanted to build my career!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love the flexibility and excitement of not knowing exactly what I will be doing each day. I am at my happiest and most productive when I have multiple projects on the go. I love working with other people, there is nothing quite like helping someone else to master a new skills. Or watching a child use their creativity in a way you, as the workshop leader, hadn’t even imagined!

What type of individuals / organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

I want to work with people who love people! Organisations that have core values for storytelling, community and people.

 What are you looking to get out of Union St?

A community and a space to work that gets me out of the house and allows me to work without getting the urge to just clean the kitchen instead! I am also really excited about talking with Matt about social enterprise and gaining connections with small business, creative people and the University.

Carina is on Twitter at @CarinaRipley and online at carinaripley.com

About Matt
Matt co-ordinates Union St and Champions Enterprise Nation in Sheffield. For feedback, questions or suggestions please email matt@union-st.org
Carina Ripley