26th June 2014
It all started with the flies back in May. We screen printed a load onto some paper and plastered every single window; all three floors at 12-14 Wood Street completely covered. Nobody had a clue what was going on. And then the flies came down on the ground floor, and Neon Workshops built our amazing window installation. Still, nobody had a clue what was happening.
On the 28th May, on the night of the last Artwalk, we opened our doors for the first time, and before long the place was buzzing. All manner of folk flocking through the door to exhaust their curiosity. We had live music from The Three Busketeers. We served drinks from the legendary Scratching Pup, and we spent all evening exchanging ideas and establishing Eye Wood on the cultural map of Wakefield.
And as I type this, it's less than 48 hours until our doors open again. Friday 27th June; just under a month since the soft launch at the Artwalk. The launch party proper for Eye Wood, and a chance for us to showcase how the shop has developed so far. I guess at this stage I should stop beating around the bush and tell you exactly what we plan on doing here on Wood Street...
Eye Wood aims to become a key creative hub in the city. By day, we'll sell all things quirky and vintage; providing affordable and flexible retail opportunities for the region's finest independent traders. This involves series of individual units, displays and boutiques. Each trader rents their respective area, and our job is to man the shop on a daily basis and pass on the money from sales.
As well as vintage clothing and accessories we'll also sell homeware, records, collectibles and decorative pieces. You can't beat a fine line in nostalgia! We'll also sell artwork. Art is a huge part of what we do, and we'll be handpicking the finest local talent; providing them with an opportunity to both display and sell their work.
After a successful introductory party after the last Artwalk, we've already established that Eye Wood will be a great evening venue. Whilst the shop is situated in the main room on the ground floor, we also have a small performance/bar area next door (the room with the piano and the magazines pasted on the walls), plus two more floors above for us to play with and explore.
The top floor will be a community darkroom and camera club. This offers a unique opportunity for budding local photographers to develop film, learn their craft and also meet likeminded individuals. We already have a project lined up with Long Division Festival, and will be providing workshops, talks and demonstrations for those interested in film photography and developing their own pictures.
The middle floor not only has a main open space but also three individual office sized rooms. Over time, these will develop a variety of uses. We already have one room kitted out with a vintage industrial sewing machine and vintage patterns. These facilities can be used free of charge throughout July, and so anybody looking to take advantage of this should contact us as soon as possible.
Over time, we'll be offering the rooms for retail opportunities such as full sized clothing boutiques or specialist themes such as a "Man Cave" or a collectibles room; any idea that happens to fall our way. We'll also be using the main open space for a variety of events; a monthly film club, a monthly spoken word night, acoustic performances, workshops and who knows what else.
The real beauty with Eye Wood is that whilst we have a clear plan and a vision for where we want to take things, we're also aware that anything could be around the corner. We're proudly presenting Eye Wood as a work in progress and are inviting the city's creative and innovative folk to join us and help it to become firmly established on Wakefield's ever evolving art, culture and retail landscape.
Eye Wood is a project belonging to local artists & event curators Natalie Liddle and Robin Goodall (of Corner 165 Studios in Dewsbury) and local writer & punk poet Matt Abbott (of Skint & Demoralised fame). They first met when Matt performed across the road from Eye Wood at one of Natalie & Robin's Wood Street Art Club events; part of a pop-up art venue that lasted throughout October 2013.
When the idea was first born in February, Natalie & Robin had run a series of other events across Wakefield, including various installations at Merchant Gate over the Christmas period, and had also had heavy involvement with Wood Street Market. Matt was running a shop with a similar business model in Sheffield, and 12-14 Wood Street appeared the perfect opportunity for them to join forces.
And now, only four months after that initial discussion, I'm sitting in a room which is soon to launch itself as a brand new shop in Wakefield city centre. The reason it's happened so quickly is because we were already equipped with the energy, the ideas and the experience to make it work; we just needed somewhere to channel it. It's been hard work, but it's bizarre how well things have fallen together.
So make sure you come down on Friday at some point (we'll be here from 11am until the early hours of Saturday, welcoming people to chat and explore), and if not, we'll be open permanently as of Monday 30th June. Our opening hours will be Monday through to Saturday from 11am until 6pm. You can follow us through the usual channels; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are /eyewoodwake.
We're proud of our project, we're proud to be on Wood Street and we're proud to be a part of a flourishing art and independent scene in Wakefield. Who knows what I'll be typing in another four months. And another four months after that. Why not get involved and find out for yourself? Eye Wood...
This blog was written by Matt Abbott, Eyewood.