I'm passionate about art, poetry, the English language and all things maritime, and I also love drawing: https://touchpaperdrawingtips.wordpress.com/ Join the Fight for the Reef! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Postcards-for-the-Reef/997018917032291
Published September 6th 2015
Shop, meet, eat and get creative all in one place
The cafe at Brick and Mortar, surrounded by 'pop-up' shops
A friend told me to go and have a look at her painting group's SALA show at a place that she knew I would love, but she couldn't quite describe it - 'part cafe, part market, part shop, part gallery, part community centre' - I was intrigued.
Brick and Mortar is tucked away behind Norwood Town Hall, in George Street. I'd never have found it if I hadn't been told about it. But now I know about it, I can't stop talking about it.
I love craft markets, but they tend to be on only once a month, they are often crowded with people and you need good weather to enjoy outdoor markets. If you don't make a decision on the day, chances are that the stallholder you wanted to go back to isn't going to be there the following month - or you might be doing something else on that date.
Lisa Butler of Fleeci shares a pod with Becc Bird of Tweet Designs, who makes her jewellery on the premises
The beauty of Brick and Mortar is that it allows artists and makers to take a 'pop-up shop' for four weeks or more, so that they can test their wares without a huge financial outlay, and customers can take their time over purchasing knowing that the items for sale will still be there in a week or two, when they have finally made up their minds and/or mustered the cash to pay for the item.
Illustrator Doris Chang welcomes me into her pop-up shop
The magic of this place is its welcoming atmosphere. The driving force behind it all is Elizabeth Donaldson, who is so hands on that while I was there she was serving coffee, yet she is also clearly focused on 'bringing the maker to market' in the current Norwood premises, with the potential of expanding Brick Mortar to other areas - and I can't wait for her to come and start another 'creative' in my suburb.
'Phoebe' produces lamps with shades that you can change whenever you like - just remove the design and replace it with another!
I started off with a delicious lunch at the cafe where if you wish you can also plug into free wi-fi and discuss your design project with people on the other side of the planet - and if you bring a toddler with you, at the back there is a children's play area. I was surrounded by a bespoke hatmaker, a designer who paints the most intricate designs with nothing but a compass to aid her, and a stall packed with the most beautifully packaged vegan skincare products.
Nadine runs Nzur Organics, a range of vegan skincare products
I soon realised that the plywood furniture used in the downstairs stalls was just a small scale version of the 'pods' that divide the upstairs space into individual stores - which are actually ply shipping boxes that form a series of intimate studio/shops that can be adapted to suit the style of each artist/maker.
Upstairs the space is divided into 'pods' which are constructed out of shipping containers and the walls are dedicated to regular exhibitions
Not surprisingly,the stores have proved popular with local creatives and availability is limited over the next few months, but Elizabeth is always on the lookout for new makers who would like to try out their new enterprise in a friendly, stimulating space. Some of the creators I met have now moved on and been replaced by new ones, but the website has a library of all the people who have rented a pod, so it also functions as an online shop on behalf of all its previous creative stores.