The ecological art shop celebrates its first anniversary
The owner of an eco-art shop in Londonderry has welcomed local support as she prepares to celebrate her first year in business.
eco art on Butcher Street specializes in natural, non-toxic art supplies, pigments and crafts and also serves as a community space for workshops and events.
Artist Anna Barclay came up with the idea for the shop after exploring planet-friendly alternatives to the materials she used in her own paintings.
Anna, who traveled to South America as a volunteer in environmental, marine and animal conservation projects, was frustrated that the most commonly used acrylic paints contain microplastics.
“I would paint nature and the sea, but using paints that are actually damaging to the ocean,” Anna explained.
“I began to study the way artists painted before the industrial revolution and discovered suppliers producing natural earth-based paints that were safer for the user and the environment.”
Impressed by products derived from flowers, rocks and natural resources, Anna devised a plan for a sustainable art supply store and community space.
When a vacant space opened up in Londonderry last year, she decided to take the plunge. Anna has also enrolled in the Start Up Accelerator program, a partnership between Derry City and Strabane District Council, Enterprise North West and Strabane Enterprise Agency with support from Fashion and Design Textile Hub and Strabane BID. Funded by the UK government through the Community Renewal Fund, it helps new entrepreneurs explore their ideas and develop their business skills.
“Navigating a new business over the past year has been unpredictable,” Anna continued.
“Having the security of one-on-one mentoring from Enterprise North West and a team of professionals you can go to for advice was great. They may have a totally different business to you, but you live the same worries and concerns.Thanks to the program and the funding, I was also able to hire a staff member.
After furnishing the store with salvaged and recycled furniture, Anna was ready to welcome her first customers last fall.
Eco Art’s Community Art Club also gives artists the opportunity to display their work in the showcase every month, and there are also workshops, zero waste events and activities linked to local festivals.
“My priority was to make Eco Art a community space to encourage people to explore their creativity, in a way that is good for the planet,” she added.
“The climate crisis is ongoing and it is not going to get better. It’s not to scare people, it’s to encourage them and tell them that it’s worth protecting. We don’t inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
“We live in a fast-paced society and I also think Covid has been a wake-up call to slow down, whether that’s taking time out in nature or exploring your artistic side. Even if people think they’re not “good” at art. The art is not there to sit and contemplate, it is about the journey and the process rather than the finished product.
“If you have a business idea that you are passionate about, there is support to help you make it a reality.”
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