'Gutted' Barnoldswick woman looking for new home for Barlick Art and Crafts Studio after fire rips through mill
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The founder of Barlick Art and Crafts Studio has been left feeling “gutted” after a fire ripped through Barnoldswick Business Centre in Skipton Road earlier this month. While no equipment has been damaged by the blaze, which occurred in the unit below the studio, fire safety officers have deemed the entire mill too dangerous to use.
Christine Murray, who has has spent seven years setting up the studio, has until the end of March to find a new space to store equipment and host affordable community art activities like pottery, glass staining, felt work, silk painting and screen printing.
Christine, who is retired, said: “I’m gutted. It’s just gone now and I don’t know what to do. It still hurts. I’ve spent so long getting it together and the community really wants to use it. People were using it to come together, learn something new, be creative and relax. It is a really sad thing and a loss to the community. It’s a shame.
"I wasn’t charging a lot of money. I just wanted to be able to afford to pay for the rent and bits and bats. I didn’t want to make a profit. It wasn’t a job. I just like arts and crafts and want to help other people enjoy it.”
The 68-year-old had transformed the space from an empty room with no ceiling to a fully equipped art and crafts studio allowing people to try out a new hobby or creative job before committing to it full-time. A window cleaner, for example, used the pottery equipment to discover his “amazing talent” as a potter while a young man with social difficulties has “flourished” while renting the space to paint, according to Christine.
She was also looking to offer the sessions as a means of social prescribing to help people boost their mental health.
"People could come along and access all the different equipment they can’t afford like the pottery wheels and vinyl cutter and work out if they want to carry on with that or try something else. People could get good at something and think, ‘It’s great; I’m going to have my own studio now.’
"A lot of people haven’t got a lot of money but everyone should be able to do things like that.
"A grandmother used to come in with her five grandchildren and they’d do painting or clay work for an hour. They loved it. They’d say, ‘When can we go again?’
"People would bring their children to meet other children.”
Christine is looking for a disability-friendly venue with a car park nearby, ideally in the middle of Barnoldswick, or at least a dry space to store her equipment until a full-time home can be found.
"I’m just desperate for a place to put all the equipment. It would be brilliant if I could store it somewhere so I can have more time to look around for a good spot. It has cost me thousands and I’d only just bought a pottery wheel before the fire.”