Meet the Creatives: Elle and Gareth - Founders of On The Brink Studio

responsive. mindful. thought-provoking.

Creativity informs all aspects of On The Brink Studio. A collaborative space brought to you by furniture ace Gareth Batowski & photographer extraordinaire Elle Brotherhood, there isn't much this duo can’t do, from woodwork, to photography, all the way through to creative workshops and events. We caught up with the pair ahead of their ‘Calling Timber: Wood and Brass Pendant Making Workshop’, to find out where they draw inspiration from, what they’ve been making and creating, and why they're loving what's on offer in South Manchester right now.

What is your company, what do you do and what makes in special?

Our Company is called On The Brink Studio and is run by myself and my partner Gareth. It was started little over a year ago with the need for us both to find a space to work and realising that we could join forces and do this together as our styles work well with each other. We also have a similar view on the importance of creativity in ourselves and others. We have a photo studio and woodworking studio and do our individual commercial work there alongside putting on creative events and workshops in the space. When we have a spare moment we also make products which we sell in our studio shop alongside various plants and prints from other local artists.

Why did you want to be a part of Float?

The idea of the festival is exactly what we're about with regards to our workshops and events that we put on. We want to encourage the importance of how creativity can promote good mental health and also the gathering of people and putting them in an environment that feels comfortable and welcoming. Everyone has the ability to be creative and we want to encourage people to let go and get making, drawing, anything! and see what comes out.

Can you sum up your work in three words?

responsive. mindful. thought-provoking.

What comes to mind when you hear the word wellness?

Contentment. Acceptance. A rounded sense of the world.

How does your work encompass wellness?

We are strong believers in using art as therapy - this doesn't mean to say we diagnose and resolve it means we recognise through simple tasks like drawing, the mind can relax and we advocate that as it is in these moments that we can grow and problem solve. So part of our practice is putting on events like draw club which we try to do for free, it is not about money it is not about producing an outcome of serious work it is about people getting together and relaxing and exploring together. Talking with others and sharing a drink is far more valuable. Event like these and workshops are a good way of people learning new skills which hopefully could turn into a hobby and hobbies are good.

Within our own practice we try to take breaks and talk to each other - sitting down and eating lunch is one of the most important tasks of the day - half an hour or so, even if you are in the middle of something quite important or stressful, to switch off have some hot food and recoup or if things are slow then an hour or more to enjoy the time available. We are aware that it is everything around our own practice which makes our practice successful - we do not just focus on photography and woodwork we focus on everything else in the hope that this releases us from constraint.

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Where does your inspiration to create come from?

Everywhere. We're inspired by the world around us, patterns in nature, conversations.

What about your work gives you the most joy?

Seeing people enjoy and react to the products we make and the events that we put on is the most enjoyable. Bringing people out of their shell, making them feel comfortable, showing people that everyone can be creative.

How does your environment influence your work?

Since having the joint studio our work has developed. We've been lucky enough to make a space specific to our needs and this really helps whilst creating. It's an adaptable environment, with different areas so we can also chill out if we need. We also have an outdoor area where we grow some basic foods so we make sure that we can switch off for a moment if we need to. This always helps when coming back to a project with a bit of a refreshed mind.

What would you like attendees to get from your workshop?

We'd like our attendees to see the various type of woods that Gareth works with in the studio and get a feel for them themselves. We'd also like to create a chilled atmosphere where people can feel they can ask questions about the material or anything, sometimes the best thing to come from the workshops, apart from the items made is the chats that we have.

What was the last thing you made?

Elle :The last thing I made was some hammered brass earrings to donate to the Create For Action page raising money for American Civil Liberties Union put together by Trove and Moonko.

Gareth: The last thing I made was a set of English Ash tables for a new bar in Manchester.

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Do you have any up and coming designers, makers, or creators, that we should know about?

To be honest over the past year or so we have been quite insular as we have been focused on setting up the studio. Moving forward and as we are up and running we'll be inviting more and more creative folks to come along to the studio especially transitioning students who want a bit of experience in the real world before they launch themselves into this crazy non-stop life.

We do have prints from local artist for sale in the shop and have recently put together a run based on the idea of 'Future Technologies' featuring Used Pencil, Photographer Zoe McLean, Illustrator and Designer Gary Burton and many more. These can be found in our shop online or in the studio shop in Stockport. We also have a dried headpiece for sale, made by florist and designer Jipola, who has been rocking the festival circuit this season with her range of clothing and headwear.

Your studio is based in Stockport, any local recommendations/hidden gems?

We have a great network of friends and support around Stockport with the likes of Agapanthus interiors which is a great shop for lighting and homewares - Tom, Zoe and the guys there are ace and super knowledgeable and can do anything.

Where is Light gets in has gained a hell of a rep since opening a coupe of years ago. Our good friend Sam and the team has done a super job.

The Magnet Pub is the best in Greater Manchester by far and it is only 193 steps from the studio. Its a no nonsense pub with impeccably kept, ever changing beer with a warm atmosphere.

There is a great new shop called Rare Mags we've just got to know them.

Tandem coffee makes a good brew and they are lovely people.

How do you capture happiness and wellbeing through the lens?

It is that moment when people let go and you can see it, they become lighter somehow.

If you could invite three people to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Frasier Crane, Niles Crane and Marty Crane. (Frasier cast) Because we love to laugh.

Where can we find you at the weekend?

In the studio mostly or at home trying not to do the hoovering or paperwork, hanging out with our new son Errol and seeing friends and family.

What are you reading/watching listening to right now?

Elle : If I want to feel inspired I listen to podcasts such as Ted Radio Hour, Invisibila and 99 percent Invisible.

Gareth : Crap telly which would inspire no-one. no-one!

You can grab your tickets for Float Festival here

Jenna Campbell