Newhaven Champion Q&A: Artist Helen Turner

Posted on 19/12/2022

Helen Turner organises Newhaven Art Projects alongside artist Nick Marsh, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes visual arts in the town. The Enterprise Zone supported the group when it turned an empty high street shop into contemporary gallery - Newhaven Art Space.

We caught up with Helen to find out more about the gallery and about her favourite things about our town.

Why did you set up Newhaven Art Space on the High Street?

We have been delivering exhibitions in high street venues and the former UTC building since 2018 with support from Arts Council England. As artists and educators ourselves, Nick Marsh and I set up the Newhaven Art Space in 2022 because we realised the importance of connecting directly with people in the heart of Newhaven.

What has the response been from residents so far?

Residents, shoppers and visitors to the town centre have expressed their joy at having some added life and culture on the High Street. Also, many have noticed that it’s a space where everyone’s welcome – it's not a shop where you might feel obliged to buy something!

How did Newhaven Enterprise Zone support you in setting up the gallery?

They contributed significantly to the cost of setting up the space and they helped us financially when it came to setting out our initial programme of events.

What other support have you had from local businesses and arts organisations?

People have been very generous; we’ve received direct support from local businesses including Boutique Modern and Mike Stimpson Properties.

What can residents expect from the gallery in 2023?

We’re seeking funding so that we can continue to deliver contemporary art exhibitions and events throughout 2023. This will include bringing the work of leading contemporary artists to the town, as well as working with and offering opportunities to local communities and regional artists. We also intend to continue with our ongoing art education programme for those people who are disadvantaged, as well as providing employment for some individuals.

What makes Newhaven a great place to live as an artist?

I don’t live in Newhaven, but I have worked from a studio in the town for around ten years. It’s affordable, and its growing as an artistic hub and community, which is exciting to see.

How would you describe the creative community in Newhaven?

Eclectic and exciting. Newhaven’s cultural life is getting richer every day. It’s a very inclusive place, so artists and makers of all kinds and from all walks of life feel welcome and enjoy the community spirit.

Tell us what you love about Newhaven?

It’s a small and friendly place, and it has an interesting coastal and industrial dual identity – always inspiring.

What do you think makes Newhaven a great place to base a business?

We are a not-for-profit organisation, but I imagine for those in business, there are affordable spaces to rent and a skilled workforce on hand. I would like to see more financial help from councils to provide buildings at a reduced rent for artists’ studios.

What would you like Newhaven to look like in ten years’ time?

I’d like a thriving High Street. I’d like to see that any success or change that builds on the idea of a ‘creative quarter’ occurs with care and thought for existing communities. I hope there won’t be any ‘art washing’ or gentrification.

What would you like Newhaven Enterprise Zone to spend its funding on?

Creating more commercial space in the town, more cultural events, which would make Newhaven a better place in which to live and work, as well as support for businesses to help them grow. Also, I’d like to see more support for art activity that benefits the community.

To find out more about Newhaven Art Projects and the Newhaven Art Space gallery, visit: www.newhavenprojects.co.uk

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