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Blackburn Is Open - Artists Launch Pop Up Shop

A new pop-up shop showcasing the work of local artists opens in Blackburn town centre.


With many shops and even banks leaving the high street and moving solely online what is in store for our towns and cities? Some predict it’s actually a more diverse and independent selection of shops that offer something a bit different.

One group of women who believe that there is no substitute for meeting their customers face to face and letting people see their beautiful creations up close is the team behind No. 11.

The group of four makers took on the pop-up shop on Town Hall Street, Blackburn, to show their work and also that of other local makers. The team are jewellery maker, Verity Evans, artist and maker Cath Ford, Elizabeth Emmens-Wilson who specialises in surface decoration and ceramic painting and painter and printmaker Antonia Hennerley.

No.11 was opened through the Blackburn is Open empty shops scheme that offers empty spaces to artists and entrepreneurs along with advice and some financial support. It serves as a studio, gallery and a space for workshops which the group are planning to start along with craft parties and meet the artist events in 2015.

In keeping with their diverse talents the art work on sale includes everything from ceramics to paintings, prints to jewellery, photographs and even textile pieces.

No.11 also stocks a wide variety of work by other artists such as upholstered furniture and woollen scarves although it has to meet the team’s rigorous quality control and selection process. 

“Our styles are all different but I think we all share a common vision for the shop and what it should be and how it should look,” said Verity. “We have to know that something is right for us and for our customers and we all take a vote on it.”

Having been open just over three months the group say they have been bowled over by the response to the shop. 

“The reaction has been really great,” added Verity.

 “We get lots of people in saying my sister, my mother in law or my friend said I absolutely must come in.”

They’ve found a few challenges along the way in running an actual shop as opposed to an online store, for example finding ways of encouraging shoppers to make the trip to their shop needs to be considered alongside the actual staffing of the shop.  

“We take it in turns, but it does take up our time and as artisans time is very precious because we need to be working on making things. So that’s a bit of a juggling act,” added Verity.

However she believes the positives far outweigh the negatives.  

“It’s lovely to find out where things are going.  For example, we’ve have quite a few people come in and say ‘I’ve got to send something to Australia or Canada but it needs to be ‘postable’ and we can help them with that!”

“It’s also a really immediate way of getting feedback as opposed to online  so we get to see what people want to buy so we know what artists we need to stock.”

“And perhaps most importantly it’s just a nice experience to see people’s reactions and be inspired by their enthusiasm.”