Since it first opened its doors in Spires Mall in 2013, Studio Souk has exploded into a vibrant hub of local art and culture. Now a buzzing two-story retail, studio and café space in the heart of the city, Studio Souk is one of the most popular, original and imaginative spaces in Belfast. The studio is not just a high street shop or a space for artists, it is a community. As a registered charity, the organisation is not driven by profit; it is there to provide a supportive and stimulating environment, to nurture creativity and to enrich the lives of all who enter.
Leave your preconceptions about studio spaces at the door, as Studio Souk provides a surprise around every corner. When you first walk in you are greeted by the comforting aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and it is hard to keep your eyes off the sweet treats. All locally sourced, there is no need to feel guilty digging in to a mouth watering bun — you’re supporting your local community! With an array of soup and sandwiches on offer too there is no chance you will leave hungry. We strongly recommend the ‘tipsy pig’ — delicious! The quirky décor, friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere create the perfect place to sit and watch the city swirl by.
If you’re not in the mood for a cup of tea, that’s no matter; the bottom floor has plenty more to offer. Overflowing with unique Northern Irish crafts, there is something to delight everyone and anyone! Ranging from plush cushions to nourishing beard oils, colourful cards to hand-crafted statues, it is impossible to leave Studio Souk without treating yourself. But wait, it gets even better! Being an eco-friendly establishment, nearly all the materials used for the products are recycled or natural so there really is no need to feel guilty, even if you splurge a little more than intended.
There is even a spot to entertain the little ones and get their creative juices flowing!
But the real magic happens upstairs. Comprising a number of individual studio spaces and a framing studio, this floor is home to twelve artists in residence. These affordable studio spaces enable local artists to channel their creativity and display their work in a high footfall retail environment. Studio Souk provides the artists with peer support, heightened confidence and an opportunity for creative collaboration.
We stopped to talk to a few of the resident artists and they all had glowing reviews of Studio Souk. Timmy White, creator of Getrude Anna told us what the studio had done for him as an artist. Giving up his day job to pursue his textile and illustration business, he explained how the studio not only nourished him creatively, but also helped to develop his knowledge of the retail environment. The business is geared towards wholesale, and being a non-profit organisation his studio space works as a sustainable, realistic stepping stone to bigger and brighter things for his business. We absolutely love Gertrude Anna, especially the funky patchwork cushions, and Timmy’s ‘waste not, want not’ ethos. Check out his all his unique retro wares at www.gertrudeanna.com
Olive Duffy, creator of OAD Art, explained to us just how ‘life-changing’ Studio Souk has been for her. She told us how, being an artist at home, it was sometimes easy to feel lost, but her studio space and her ‘Souk family’ has given her motivation. She produces really vibrant, eye-catching pieces including stylistic portraits of Belfast, breath-taking natural landscapes and striking mosaics. But don’t take my word for it — check her out yourself in Studio Souk!
So there we have it, Studio Souk really is paving the way for artists and retailers alike in Belfast city centre. I cannot recommend it enough. Come take a look inside and support your local community — I promise you won’t regret it.