What happens when local people have time and space to imagine collectively?
East Quay in the Somerset coastal town of Watchet, opened in September 2021. A new cultural venue it is home to two contemporary art galleries, eleven artist studios, a paper mill, a geology workshop, print studio, restaurant, education space and five extraordinary accommodation pods, all on the quayside in Watchet on Somerset’s coast.
Designed by Invisible Studio and Ellis Williams Architects, East Quay was conceived of and is now run by Onion Collective CIC, a Watchet grown, female-led, not-for-profit social enterprise. East Quay illustrates that when local people have the space and time to imagine collectively, the results can be fantastically creative, welcoming, ambitious and fun. It can point the way to a different future.
About the Speakers:
Piers Taylor is an architect and the founder of Invisible Studio, a multi award winning practice that works internationally. He studied in Sydney, Australia and at London’s Architectural Association. He holds a PhD in architecture from the University of Reading, and was awarded an anniversary PhD scholarship. Taylor is specifically interested in rethinking practice and in ‘contingent making’ as an opportunity for empowerment, rather than merely as a mechanism to project fully formed ideas onto inert. He started Studio in the Woods in 2005, which is a highly influential summer school where ideas are tested at 1:1. He was a design fellow at the University of Cambridge and the inaugural Studio Master on the Architectural Association’s Design & Make Masters Programme. Invisible Studio’s work has been published widely and internationally, and Taylor has lectured widely about the work of the practice. He lives between an olive grove in Greece and the UK in a self built house in a 100 acre Woodland that he manages alongside practice. His studio was built by unskilled ‘amateurs’ from waste thinnings from the woodland. The practice has no formal employees and operates on a collaborate-only basis.
Jess Prendergrast is a Founding Director of social enterprise Onion Collective. Jess’ background is in social, economic and policy research. Previously, she was Research Director at an independent think tank in Westminster and Economics Editor for a highly regarded economics consultancy, having previously worked in Government research and academia. She holds a Masters from the University of London and a BA from the University of Oxford. Jess has established a number of social and community enterprises. As well as being one of the founders of Onion Collective, she was one of the team behind the £3.2 million youth centre and indoor skate park, Minehead EYE, for which she remains Director, and established Contains Art, an inventive cultural charity, of which she remains Chair.