The Sorting Office

This collective of creative businesses is home to the studio spaces of local artists. First launched in 2013, this hive of activity is now based in Station Road in Eastleigh town centre, just opposite the train station.

On the ground floor, there’s Harriet Riddell and her freestyle stitched portraits, and historical costumier Helen McArdle. One floor up, textile artist Rachel Reynolds and illustrator Steinar Lund share a space, and illustrator Denise Hughes has a studio space next door. Up on the top floor, Hannah Boyd is hard at work on mixed media arts and printing, and Linda Miller creates her machine embroideries.   

The building isn’t open for drop-ins but all of the artists can arrange appointments via their websites and social media. Half of the artists are from Eastleigh itself.

Debbie Gent, who acts as Business Mentor for the group, said: “We’re getting stronger and stronger. We’re visible and we’re going to increase that with displays in the window which will really showcase what goes on inside – people will be able to ‘shop’ from outside.  

“I love the interaction with everybody and the artists are all on a journey; it’s lovely to make a difference, give them some confidence and help them onto that next stage. Denise, for example, is signed to a London agent with offices in New York and Harriet has done incredible work all over the world. Their Christmas Fair will take place at The Point in November. 

“The Sorting Office gives artists an opportunity to run their own business with that platform including a business address and mentoring to develop their creative practice; they can teach in the local community and hold classes.

“I always encourage them to think big as anything is possible. Don’t restrict your reach – those audiences are out there for you nationally and internationally.” 

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Artists at The Sorting Office