It’s just after midday and most of the artists at King Street Artworks are returning to work after lunch.
Stephanie has been coming on and off for about 8 years. She’s an irregular regular – coming every day some weeks, other weeks not at all.
“I’m a textile person. Weaving, sewing, embroidery,” says Stephanie. She considers what makes King Street special: “There’s companionship. I’ve made nice friends.”
“The only rule – apart from $1 a day for coffee and respect for people – is you have to do something. It’s easy to stay at home and do nothing … and spiral into depression. [King Street] gives people a sense of purpose.”
Nathanael is another regular. “I was dragged here by my mum.”
He’s working on a steampunk inspired ray gun built from recycled objects, but his main interest is working with clay.
“I don’t know if you would call it sculpting or shaping,” he says. All the resources the artists use are free. King Street has been running for 20 years and was opened to support people with their mental health. As well as the studio, there is also a gallery where the public can buy work.
Ian Chapman, the centre’s coordinator, is clearly proud of the studio’s culture.
“You’re not rich or poor. It’s not about race or a diagnosis. [The people who come here] are artists and valued members of our community,” he says.
Daniel attends “almost religiously. Probably four days a week, maybe five if I can get here on the weekend,” he says.
“It just feels like a safe place, a non-judgemental place. The focus is on the work, the rest of the things are secondary.
“I had a breakdown and just kept coming. It helped.”
Lynn first came in the studio’s first year. “If I haven’t got anything on I come in… I might as well bring the bed.” She is working on patchwork today, her preferred activity.
“I like to keep busy. Coming here helps… friendship, good tutors and a nice building.”