The Makers: Intoart

The Makers is a series of short films and interviews that aim to tell the story of some of our talented members at Peckham Levels. It may not always be open to the public but Levels 1-4 is a bustle of activity, collaboration, making and creating. ‘The Makers’ is an exclusive peek behind the scenes to meet the people that make Peckham Levels and to take a look inside their units. We sat down with Ella from Intoart to talk about how the visual arts charity came about and their future plans.

How many artists work in the studio?

The collective has 21 artists currently. One reason for moving to Peckham levels was to expand and we’ve started to work with six new artists within the last year. All the artists are local and we have a waiting list, there’s a lot of demand for what we do. We’re about the visibility of people with learning abilities as artists rather than being a service provider; the ownership of being part of a collective.

Do you have a variety of artists in the studio?

The art studio focuses on painting, printmaking, sculpture, writing and performance but in the design studio it’s more about commercial application and working to briefs. We have a product range and the largest collection comes out once a year in the Autumn and we’ve got a really good growing and local audience for that.

What do you do on an average day?

There’s not an average day really, that’s kind of great. My role spans everything of the director so strategy, the business plan and finance. All of the staff team work in the studio with the artists as well so we really get to know what people are working on which means I can respond in terms of our partnerships with galleries and museums, about where artists want to direct their work.

What inspired you and the rest of the team to start Intoart?

In my second year of art school I started volunteering to work with people with learning disabilities, when I left school I wanted to bring the two things together. There seemed to be a real lack of ambition and value for what was possible for people with learning disabilities making art work, in terms of what they could access, material spaces and opportunities. We wanted to create that opportunity.

What do you like about Peckham Levels?

I like the mix of people working across different creative industries and the mix of commercial with the voluntary sector. On our floor there’s a real energy to work, there’s people in the building we can riff off and resources we can access. We’re members of 3rd Rail Print Space, we’re working with the Kiln Rooms and we’ve done workshops with Bright Rooms. And for others in the building, I think it opens up their idea of who can be an artist.

Do you have any tips for someone at the start of building their own workshop or business?

Integrity is important. When we started there was a need, a commitment to make change and demand. Those are some of the ingredients of successful projects. We were also incremental in our growth. We could be working with 100 people a week but we make a choice to invest long term and have a high impact on people’s lives. We’re the sum of our parts, although I’m the director it’s very much a collective.

What are your plans for the future with Intoart?

We’re using this year to make a lot of new, big work ready for 2020 because that’s our 20th year. We’ve been busy since we started, there’s been lots of interest in terms of collaborations in Peckham so we want to build on that. We’re just about to get a big print press for the studio, that will be a great asset and a nice way to invite others into the studio.

Follow Intoart and their future plans by following their Instagram.