We are looking for ‘pledgers’ for our Big Give Christmas Campaign by the end of August! Can you help?

A pledger is a donor who is able to give a larger sum - minimum of £100, towards our target of £22,500. It’s a great way of making your money go further, as pledge gifts effectively quadruple in value throughout the campaign. Pledges would be fulfilled between December and January and we have secured over £16,000!

Please make a pledge or forward the link here:



Christmas might seem a long way off, but we are already making plans to join the Big Give Christmas Challenge. The Christmas Challenge is the UK’s biggest match-funding campaign.

The Geoff Mack Fund was created in 2018 with a legacy by a Studio Member, to tackle the ongoing issue of access to adequate support for mental health needs.

This year Studio Upstairs wants to raise £90K through the Big Give Christmas Challenge for this fund.

Our first step is to raise £22.5K in pledges from key supporters or funders. A pledge is a promise to pay a given sum at a later date. We are looking for people able and willing to pledge a minimum of £100 by the end of August. The money will not need to be paid to Studio Upstairs after the Big Give Christmas Challenge Week is over (3-10 December) and by mid January.

Once we have sufficient pledge funding, we use this to attract Champion funding from philanthropists working through the Big Give, and these two types of gifts then comprise the match funding pot offered to donors during the Christmas Challenge. Champion funds are only awarded up to the total of a charity’s pledges, so confirming pledges is a really important first step.

If you would like to help us in this way, and become a pledger, please click on the button below which will take you to the Big Give website, where you can make your pledge.



This exhibition by artists from the therapeutic arts community Studio Upstairs celebrates 30 years of the diverse creativity and artistic skills of the Studio members, team and volunteers.

Exhibition : 14th December 2018 - 13th January 2019

Private view: Thursday 13th December 2018, 7-10pm 

(Click here for tickets)

Stour Space
7 Roach Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3 2PA

The charity Studio Upstairs was founded in 1988 to meet the needs of people moving out of the psychiatric health system, by providing a supportive community-based environment somewhat removed from the conventional clinical setting, where members can communicate their experiences through making art. It is now celebrating its 30th year in London, has a branch in Bristol, and has recently opened in Croydon.

The exhibition will showcase work from members of the Studio Upstairs past and present and includes painting, print, sculpture and digital media.

Artist Statement: ‘As artists, we make art to explore our experiences of everyday life and use them as raw material in the creative process. In doing so we can make these experiences understandable or acceptable to ourselves and to the world outside.’

‘Studio Upstairs is a space to take some joy in colour, texture, and making art. For those of us who struggle to find a way to be with ourselves and others, this can the breathing space we need.’

Artwork by Tahere Mozhdeh Nazirpour
Huma, (Bird-of-paradise)

Zlatinka Hristova, Director of Studio Upstairs, says: “This exhibition is an opportunity for us to celebrate the resilience of the charity and the impact that it has made to many individual lives over the past 30 years, allowing the artists to tell their own story through their artwork”

The charity’s patron, Leo Burley, a documentary film-maker who directed the Bafta-nominated BBC documentary, Life After Suicide, says: “I cannot emphasise enough the significance of giving individuals access to mutually supportive group environments and creative opportunities can make in improving people’s long-term mental health. The work of Studio Upstairs is crucial in helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society become empowered through making art.”

Studio Upstairs has partnered with Stour Space, Hackney, a socially minded organisation offering exhibition, performance and studio space for the development of creative enterprises. Devoted to the promotion and production of art and design, performance and innovative business, Stour Space also works in collaboration with many local enterprises, residents, artists and committees.


Studio Upstairs is an arts and health charity with branches in Bristol and London. Our vision is for a world in which everyone can transform their life through creative community. We provide positive, life-changing interventions for people with mental or emotional difficulties within an artistic therapeutic community. We will support you to enhance your well-being and health, reinforce and recharge your creativity and achieve your own goals.


Zlatinka Hristova
Telephone: 020 8616 5440

Adam Steiner - Coordinator
Telephone: 020 7503 1330/ 07988280377

Artwork by Shahla Isfahani. Acrylic and oil paint on Canvas, 60cmx60cm


Private view: Thursday 13th December 2018, 7-10pm
Exhibition: 14th of December 2018 - 13th of January 2019

Directions to Stour Space:
Overground: Hackney Wick station
DLR: Pudding Mill Lane
Buses: 8 (Closest stop Parnell Road), 26, 30, 236, 276 (Closest stop Wansbeck Road), 488, 388. Night bus 26

For more details:


Studio Upstairs’ South London Studio HAS MOVED!

Studio Upstairs is now operating creative projects, art workshops and events from a first floor space at 1A Drummond Street, just off Croydon High Street.

The charity’s Director, Zlatinka Hristova, said “This is a very exciting time for us as the South London Studio has found a permanent space to support people to explore their creativity and better manage their own mental health and wellbeing.”


“Our new studio in the heart of Croydon shows that we are here to stay and that we will keep on supporting the art and culture for people facing the challenges and stigma around mental health .”


In October this year, Studio Upstairs will celebrate its 30th anniversary since it was first established in London.


Studio Upstairs (South London) are now based at 1A Drummond Street, Croydon, CR0 1TT.

For all enquiries about Studio Upstairs, contact us here:

Telephone: 020 8616 5440


Hope Unfolding Exhibition ¦ 21 – 26 July 2017

Studio Upstairs artists will exhibit at the Stoke Newington Library Gallery from 22nd to 26th  July 2017. The opening night will be held on Friday 21st July, from 6pm to 10pm.

This latest exhibition of the artworks of our Dalston’s members and art therapists called: Hope Unfolding, takes its title from the work made by late artist and former studio member Emma Hope, who passed away in March this year at the age of 47. In celebration of  Emma’s life and art work, this group exhibition shows a wide variety of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and short films, made by art therapists, current and former members of Studio Upstairs.  

Artist Patsy McMahon, shared: “one of the things I miss the most about my late friend Emma Hope is our many interesting conversations about art. I have felt driven to help put on this art show including the posthumous exhibition of some of Emma’s artwork, somehow inspired by our conversations about Inkblots, body maps, the experience of a human body and many other things, as well as by my sense of loss and a desire for completion.”

“I feel very happy this is an opportunity to exhibit  the work of studio members and some of Emma’s friends, who also like she attended Studio Upstairs in Dalston. It would have pleased her, I know, to exhibit with them in this joint celebration of life in general and her life in particular. I hope many people come along and enjoy the show and the Studio Upstairs community.”

David Fried, Senior Studio Manager, added: “this exhibition represents for me a statement of continuity of the creative approach between past and present members of the studio which persists through time even though individuals do not.”

Through this show Studio Upstairs hopes the artistic community, trusting in the freedom of the imagination as a force for good, continues to break new ground, cross boundaries and carries on challenging prejudices and stereotypes, unearthing fresh expression of the many types of human experience.

We would like to extend a big thank you to Dalston’s studio members and studio managers, Emma’s friends and Stoke Newington local stores for their donations and contributions to fund and make this exhibition possible.   

Everyone is welcome to join our opening night, which will include a short performance by the Studio Upstairs Drama Group, on Friday 21st July, from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm. Please RSVP

Croydon Mayor is proud to support Studio Upstairs

On Tuesday the 9th of May 2017, Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor and Deputy Mayor Councillor Toni Letts joined Studio Upstairs South London to mark its 1st birthday. In his speech the Mayor congratulated Studio Upstairs for its wonderful work over the past year. Speaking of his pride in the project, he shared his own personal experience of mental health and voiced his support:

‘The work of Studio Upstairs and other Croydon Mental Health Care Services is absolutely vital, and the more we can reach out to those who suffer with their mental health the better’

In its first year the South London Studio has supported 16 Members to develop their artistic practice and improve their well-being, 3 of which are now well enough to return to work. One member explains the benefits of the studio:

‘The studio has given me purpose in life and the freedom to express myself creatively without limits.The staff are fantastic and I feel safe. I want to stay well and Studio Upstairs is helping me to achieve this’

Since it’s inauguration in 2016, the South London studio and gallery has welcomed over 2000 visitors through its doors, encouraging people from all backgrounds to participate in the arts through workshops, exhibitions and gallery nights.


Surviving or Thriving?: Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

Following this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May) Studio Upstairs Dalston attended St. Mungo’s Mental Health Festival held on Friday 19th May at the Calthorpe Project Community Garden, practically an oasis set in an otherwise grey King’s Cross. This year’s theme was ‘Surviving or Thriving’, promoting good mental health beyond just the absence of illness. Despite slightly ominous grey skies, many stalls set up and visitors poured in. Organisations from all over London were represented, including those offering support for issues such as homelessness and unemployment which often intersect with mental health problems and emotional distress.

“It was a brilliant opportunity to meet potential new members, service providers, and care workers alike, letting people know about what we do at Studio Upstairs and learning about other great organisations,” said: Andrea Zapata-Nalsen, Studio Upstairs Office Manager at Dalston.

Studio Upstairs collaborate with Tate to talk about Mental Health


Studio Upstairs members were actively involved in a collaborative process that brought together various charities and the Tate Modern to exchange ideas, feelings and thoughts about mental health, wellbeing and creative practices, including visual arts.

The result of this collaboration was the event called,  Chain Reaction: How Are You? held on 5th November at the Tate Modern.

Our members and studio managers contributed by responding creatively as individuals to cube structures which were used to make an installation display. The cubes became the heart of the event as members of the public entered the space and walked around them. Throughout the afternoon people had conversations prompted by the images, colours and words they saw in the cubes, which were all related to experiences of mental health.

Sarah Walker, a member of Studio Upstairs, said:

“We took part in this project to highlight mental health issues by creating meaningful dialogues, to strengthen awareness of the work of Studio Upstairs,  and, as artists to create exciting, enjoyable and creative opportunities for Tate visitors.”

Jake, also a member of our studio added: “I  was very honoured to be a part of this project. I found it empowering: to produce the artwork and to witness others, random strangers interacting with the art. I particularly enjoyed seeing my work appreciated. It was also empowering because I felt the event was lifting the lid on stigma towards mental illness.”

At the event, members of the public were encouraged to help to make a long paper chain and placards with messages related to wellbeing; and take selfies or portraits against a background which reflected the person’s mood through the use of colours and shapes. Each one of these activities asked the public to respond to the question ‘How Are You?

Few of our members also volunteered their time to help deliver the activities.

We ask – How are You?

The question initiates one of the most everyday exchanges we all face. We also ask – Is there a way of answering the question so that our actual truth can exist in a world which often seems to require glib and positive responses.

Art, drama, music and poetry create languages for grief, trauma, terror, ecstasy and joy. However, in society, these areas of human experience are usually talked about in the language of illness – depression, mania, psychosis, bipolar, schizophrenia etc. We ask – Can there be other languages to describe people’s existence in a more real way.

In the field of psychiatry, we recognise that there are many individuals and groups who have a supportive and helpful influence for patients. However, we ask – Is it helpful for a person’s thoughts, endeavours, emotional life and struggles for existence to be viewed as symptoms of illness? Can there be more supportive and meaningful exchanges between psychiatry and the people seeking its support? Does mental illness in fact exist? We ask you to join us in exploring these questions.

Using some of the most powerful forms of exchange, art making, drama and discussion, consider the question – How are you? In this exploration we hope to learn more about what it is that we all need in order to connect, create and contribute?

Written by Sarah Walker

Members share insights about their art practices at the Royal Academy

Studio Upstairs members participated an inspirational InPractice event at The Royal Academy in London on 29 July 2016.

Our artists Gillian McCormick, Clancy Gebler Davies and Vera Freire presented a selection of their work and shared the ideas and processes behind each piece.

Our members presented their work to an avid audience. Studio manager Kristina Page shared: “people were very impressed by Gillian’s drawings and paintings and I overheard a few ‘wows’ amongst the group.” Gillian said: “I was very nervous to speak at the Royal Academy, yet it went well, and the whole experience has left a wonderful memory.”

Our member Andrew Mead, who had previously presented work at InPractice, shared he has similarly gained confidence through overcoming his initial fears. Andrew said: “I found it helped me to overcome nervousness about doing a presentation, which is very useful.”  

InPractice events are part of the Royal Academy’s Access Community Programmes Artistic Presentations. These regular talks welcome creative practitioners who are at risk of exclusion from the art world because of various reasons due to ill mental health or disability.  The aim is to create a friendly and relaxed space where the work is encouraged to be discussed and explored.

Studio Upstairs members have regularly participated in these evenings and find the opportunity to present their artwork invaluable to the development of their artistic practices. Kristina said: “It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of an audience and talk about your artwork, but many Studio Upstairs members have done this over the past two years which has contributed greatly to the atmosphere of the InPractice evenings.”

South London Studio Launch, May 2016

It’s official, we have now opened our third art studio, which will provide access to people across South London. 










Left to right: Zlatinka Hristova (SU Director), Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister of Mental Health, The Deputy Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, Tony Bates (SU Chair).

Thanks to Kit Oates Photography

Alike our 28 years established Dalston and Bristol studios, the main activity is the creation of visual art within a therapeutic, safe and social space.  However, our new site boasts it’s very own art gallery, whilst adding to the current programme of Exhibitions, Workshops, Performance Groups, Visiting Artist Talks, and  Gallery and Museum visits.


We would like to thank those of you who have supported us along the way, and joined Studio Upstairs fr the launch on the 10th of May. Along with Luciana Berger, MP, Shadow Cabinet Minister of Mental Health and The Deputy Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor…in cutting the ribbon!



‘…Studio Upstairs provides a huge range of creative support including access to creative therapies in galleries and access to art materials, as well as opportunities to take part in public campaigns and to get involved in the day to day running of the organisation…’   (Luciana Berger MP)

Boosting Your Wellbeing and Happiness

by Katie Smith

Positive activities that help relaxation after a stressful day at work, or a tough week are often difficult to self prescribe. We might be aware that we need to give ourselves a bit of time out in order to cope with the build up of daily stresses, yet it can be difficult to find time, motivation or direct ourselves.

Taking a creative stance can be an extremely effective way in which we can alleviate common issues such as anxiety, stress and low mood. This is something Studio Upstairs offers in collaboration with the City and Hackney Wellbeing Network free to local residents. The courses are also open to residents in other local authorities at £20 to £30 per session.

Studio Upstairs runs those sessions so they fit around your working hours. The evening and weekend courses currently include:

Discover Your Inner Artist: explore your inner creativity and remove creative blocks in a small supportive group of people dedicated to unlock their hidden talents. This course is an intense guided journey in a closed group and will involve commitment to complete tasks and exercises between the sessions.

        11AM – 12:30PM, Saturdays for 12 weeks

Life Transitions: explore ways in which you can manage changes. The sessions as facilitated by Erene Kaptani, Dramatherapist will use movement as a way to address emotional conflicts. As the course progresses, participants will discover ways to cope with difficult transitions and feel more able to actively create life changes.

       5.30PM  –  7.30PM, Wednesdays for 12 weeks

The Art of Breathing:The course will encourage art making following short and simple guided meditations. The Art Therapist Benjamin Prosser will guide you to explore your physical and mental awareness via drawing or painting. The aim of the workshop is to give you skills in your day to day life to achieve an increased awareness, calm and creative freedom.

6PM – 8PM, Wednesdays for  4 weeks

It is important to note that no experience of art making, drama, or meditation is necessary for any of the sessions.

If you are interested to sign up for the above creative groups, please contact us on 0207 503 1330 or email to for more information.

Blurred Lines and Shifting Sands: Working with Open Studio Models


by Katie Smith

I signed up to attend the first workshop of the new year held at London’s Studio Upstairs – with unthinking enthusiasm. Studio Upstairs works as an open studio where the Studio Managers, who are HCPC registered Art Psychotherapists work alongside members in a therapeutic community setting to bring about wellbeing.

On the day, I arrived five minutes late and brought along with me the anxiety of a first day back at school. I told myself to act my age, sat on my hands to stop them from shaking and tried not to think about a potential escape route. As I tried to ignore myself, I studied the room – a beautifully light studio of perfect size and layout, just small enough to settle into and large enough to feel free. I was warmly welcomed by the Studio Managers and shared smiles with other people attending the workshop as we introduced ourselves. Most others were MA students of Art Psychotherapy or already working within arts and mental health organisations, so as a new Studio Upstairs Office Volunteer, I was extremely aware of my inexperience. Following a welcome to the studio and explanation of where paper, paints of all kinds, inks, clay, lino printing materials, paper and reference books were kept, the art making began. In my case, it didn’t.

A second wave of fear had slapped me in the face. I watched each person in the room head towards whichever materials they felt appropriate and instantly get on with creating. Slowly my anxieties dissipated as I drew confidence from seeing others seemingly fearlessly focus on working. Despite my confidence growing, I felt like my creative block could be sensed and it was a problem. The studio manager to my left did sense this, but after a short and indirect chat, I relaxed again. The studio manager nearest me carried on calmly with her work and I drew my own calm from seeing this. I thought about how subtle this moment was, yet how effective it was in drawing me out of anxiousness just enough to allow some sort of creative release. How effective the community of Studio Upstairs must be for its individual members. One of the main roles of the Studio Managers (Art therapists) in this setting, is to ‘hold the space’ (Gadiel, 1992) and I felt I was witnessing exactly that. Interestingly, at the same time as there being support, there is also a natural movement to the working space, for instance, people worked over initial drawings with heavier materials like paint or discussed starting all over again because the piece didn’t feel quite right. An intention of the workshop was to put ‘emphasis on how containment and boundaries are held or lost when the studio is a fluid shared space’.

Personally, I had gone from being stuck in my own negative thoughts, gradually shifting out of those constraints and into a pleasant state of focus via drawing. I realise that this would not necessarily of been achieved outside of the open studio model and that must be the case for many people who are now involved in Studio Upstairs. In such a variety of cases the open studio model succeeds in allowing the unraveling of tied up and difficult emotions through a connection back to the artwork and a knowing that they are supported within a community.

David Bowie and the link between creativity and mental illness

by Monika Kalytyte

Yesterday was a day of sadness for millions of people across the world, as David Bowie, a bright star, departed our world, leaving behind a powerful legacy and writing the last line of a book which has marked a number of generations in oh so many different ways. David Bowie’s legacy, discoveries, visions and far-reaching influence, will undoubtedly remain with us, and I am confident it will be communicated with the generations to come in a similar way that it happened with Freddie Mercury.

The very element of Bowie as a person, that powered his great lyrics, his personas, his complex arrangements, his extravagant fashion ideas, his paintings, was also the part of him that he worried could at any moment defeat him.

His intellectual life was so sharp; he believed mind was not always an asset. ‘Sometimes a mind goes haywire. Sometimes a mind sends you into deep darkness, or even off the roof of a mental institution’, quite often Bowie talked about how he struggled in life with his fear of the same sort of mental collapse.

Creative people are genetically more likely to suffer from mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression. Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO of deCODE, demonstrated a link between some mental disorders and creativity: ‘To be creative, you have to think differently. And when we are different, we have a tendency to be labelled strange, crazy and even insane.’

Some studies have backed up this notion, suggesting that writers, artists and others are more likely to have a mental illness and that people with certain mental illnesses, such as depression and mood disorders, appear somewhat more likely to be creative.

To be creative is to make sense of and connect the small details of everything we experience, the good and the bad. All the creatives naturally tend to think more, and think about their very thoughts too. This type of thinking, lets individual examine different subjects, related with personal knowledge or the outside one, in more depth. Analyzing certain subjects creates inner war, which is sometimes necessary for bringing up some artistic outcome; however there is a fine line between that, and getting driven into mental darkness.

Otherwise, one does not need to be an artist to create, to use art as a self expression tool. Among others, art is a healing, meditative, self motivating and emotional unloading tool. Art helps to communicate and send a message to the outside world.

Through our long year experiences, we can highlight the importance of art and creativity, as integral components of recovery. Painting, sculpting, performing, and other arts are pleasurable activities but can also be a channel for expression of those parts of the self, which may not have been expressed in any other way. Art can be used as a powerful healing tool to explore deep emotions – turn them, into materials. You have way to forget for the moment, what you can’t do, be empowered to improvise and innovate.  It has the ability to transform us, awaken us and our parts to recover and heal from earlier traumas or memories. Through artwork, people can develop their own personal vocabularies for a fuller identity.

There is still so much silence around the subject of mental health, yet it’s something that can affect all of us at some point in our live. Studio Upstairs works with people and for people, to provoke thoughts, to bring the understanding and to reduce stigma at the wide audience.

It could be a New Year’s resolution for all of us; end the stigma and discrimination around mental health and become open about it. It is so important to know that you are loved and that there are people around you that care and are there to listen.

Please join and support, in any possible and appropriate way, our beautiful community at Studio Upstairs. We really need your ideas, donations, time, to maintain our everyday life here, which is so precious and special for all of us and especially for our studio members. There is place where they feel independent, safe and able to unleash their creativity.

This year, help yourself by helping others!

Art as a time out: Richard Dadd

by Carla Di Grazia

Nowadays it is increasingly more difficult to find time for yourself. Your mind is constantly bombarded with thoughts, worries and external distractions like the digital devices that certainly do not help to slow down your pace.

Art has the power to make time stand still, and allows you to take your head off from every negative or stressful thought and everyone transferring negative energy to you. Art can be a time out from people, emotions, but it can also be a second, in many cases, undiscovered, opportunity in your life.

From 7th November 2015 to 6th February 2016, BETHLEM MUSEUM OF THE MIND (part of the Bethlem Royal Hospital) is running an exhibition about the Victorian artist Richard Dadd (1 August 1817 – 7 January 1886) who created some important works while detained at the Bethlem Royal Hospital. 

Dadd was recognized for his detailed imaginative literary illustration but during a trip to the East he fell into mental illness, which resulted to killing his father. He was detained permanently at Bethlem and later Broadmoor Hospital but it was during his time at the Bethlem that he had the opportunity to continue to paint and create most of his famous works.

The exhibition “The Art Of Bedlam: Richard Dadd”,  is a great opportunity to find out more about the artist, but also about the story of the hospital itself which was founded in 1247 –  the first institution in the UK to specialize in the care of the mentally ill. 

The mission of the museum is to celebrate the achievements of people suffering from mental health problems. This exhibition, in particular, is an opportunity to break down some stereotypes about people in mental distress. A trip down to Dadd’s exhibition will allow you to to learn more from the insights that artists, like Richard Dadd, have pulled out of their difficult experiences.

He used his art as a ‘time out’ from worries and anxiety of everyday life, but in particular his creativity sustained him during the difficult years spent in the hospital. As Patricia Allderidge (Bethlem Hospital’s Archivist and Curator from 1967 to 2003) said: “Dadd survived as a person throughout these terrible years because he survived as a painter”.

This is very much in line with the work of Studio Upstairs, where we continuously aim to strengthen the creative identity of our talented service users, and support them in becoming members of the wider art community in London – one which we are aware that it is really strong, yet very competitive.

Richard Dadd survived because he had a second opportunity in his life: keeping his brush with him until the end of his years and painting continuously, allowing his works to live even after his death.

The story of Richard Dadd is yet another proof of the powerful healing qualities of art. I left the exhibition thinking that indeed, art can give you a second opportunity or maybe even a second life, if you really want. I like thinking that in some cases, having only some paint and a brush might be all you need!

What’s special about our SMILE auction?

by Monika Kalytyte

It is a bright little studio in the corner of the Dalston Culture House, on the second floor. You open the door, and get surrounded by the smell of paint, oil, clay, paper… and coffee. There is always carefully-selected music in the background, which varies everyday depending on the mood. You look closer. There are ordinary people who get on with their work, stay focused, sit individually or in groups and create. Ordinary people, who have stories to tell, but sometimes choose to remain silent – other times they choose to tell them through their art. They are here because they feel free, they feel safe, and they feel that they can be themselves and speak up their minds. But they phrase it better than I do… “Studio Upstairs is the one place I feel completely at home, I don’t worry about how I come across, I don’t have to worry about being myself.”

In September, Studio Upstairs launched ‘Give us a smile’ creative fundraising project; an open invitation to our artists, friends celebrities and creative people from all around Europe to ‘shoot’ us a smile.

Why is this smile project so important?
First things first, the smile – whether you give it, or you receive it, it can make a huge difference. It reduces stress, it is the best outfit one can wear, it is a medicine-free painkiller, it is international, it is the first step to happiness, a recipe of longevity and makes people around you feel good.

Why we chose a smile?

Because we want to give and receive positivity, while, at the same time raising awareness about the increasing number of people who don’t smile very often.

Smiles could be interpreted in all sort of different ways, but they would certainly bring the community together to give a chance to everyone to explain themselves – what is a smile to them, what do they relate a smile to. With this project we gave everyone the opportunity to open their minds and souls; we asked for a smile and received colors, sketches, collages, bitter smiles, straight faces.

So far we have received smiles from all over the UK, Spain and Greece! Our affordable art auction evening will be a unique opportunity to buy a piece of art and support Studio Upstairs!

Have you got enough reasons to join our cause?

RSVP at the auction evening  at!


Birthday Cake, Art and Speeches: Studio Upstairs celebrates its 25th anniversary!

‘We meet as a community of artists who come through art into the world’’

With this touching quote, Claire Manson, co-founder of Studio Upstairs highlighted the role played by the Studio in its last 25 years.  The quote was also an apt description of the night which marked the organisation’s anniversary.  Members, guests and the team behind SU, past and present came together on the date to celebrate a quarter of a century of struggle, hardship and much success. On the walls of the Seven Dials Club, a collection of outstanding members’ artworks, an ode to what the Studio has been able to achieve. On the menu: bright pink kir cocktails, nibbles and a collectively decorated two meter long cake bearing glitter covered doodles, birthday messages and quotes such as ‘Love is all’ and ‘Art is magic’.

As Ansuman Biswas, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, put it in his passionately delivered speech, Art is a means to overcome obstacles; the art of living is about creating beauty out of hopelessness.

Zlatinka Hristova, the organisation’s Director, thanked all involved in the winding history of SU with special mention to Studio members ‘without whom there would be no community’. She also used her speech to outline the importance of art in our lives:

‘What might be perceived as an extravagance, might be a necessity for the soul’

To her, the future success of Studio Upstairs would depend on our ‘courage, determination and creativity’.

Twenty-five colourful candles marked twenty-five colourful years, as they were jointly lit and blown, after an enthusiastic Happy Birthday sing along, followed by Hip Hip Hooray and all. Here’s to another 25 centuries of Studio Upstairs!

Big ‘Thank You’ also goes to the Pink Icing Company who baked the tasty cake for us!

Big thank you from Studio Upstairs!

Big thank you to the Riverside Garden Centre in Bristol for donating some flower/herb seeds for our outside area. Some of the flowers will come up for the summer other will come up annually.

Our outside area was in need of some TLC, so a few members have been working outside today re-potting plants – thank you! The re-planting of our new seeds will happen next week..

Once the flowers have grown we will add a photo to the blog. Thanks once again!

Studio Upstairs Bristol visits Expressions 2013

This morning a couple of the team and some members from the Bristol Studio visited the Expressions 2013 Festival at the Paintworks Event Space. Expressions is a yearly exhibition run by The Milestones Trust. This year’s Expressions is about ‘bringing the outside in’.

It is such a fun show! Weird and wonderful with a million things to look at. The entrance is very spring-like, with hundreds of hand crafted projects.

Then the visitors have to pick through  hanging images printed on material to get into the main show. Once into the main show the visitor is greeted by a felted Angel and busts of Elvis, The Queen, Gandalf and others (including a particularly unnerving owl-woman).

The show is split up into different parts for different projects and installations, most of them collaborative. There was an Afghan Box Camera, a project called ‘Bringing Yourself to the Table’ and a Secret Garden amongst other installations. It was a pleasure to look round such a lively and intriguing space. They also had a great cafe (lovely tea!).

Do go and have a look if you get a chance. Expressions 2013 is on until 21st April at Paintworks, Bristol. There is a full list of events and projects here.

Written by Megan Hoyle.


The much anticipated pain(t) exhibition opens tonight at ELECTRIC HOUSE, Willesden Green.

On offer are 19 incredible pieces of work that all draw their inspiration from the ideas of pain. Pain is a very real and difficult subject and one that everyone can relate to.

Curator’s choice: Gillian McCormicks triptych of a flying eagle carrying the artists heart in its claws is a powerful and darkly dramatic piece, we have all felt at some point that our heart has been stolen, and this piece captures that pain beautifully.

Not only do we have artworks on offer but Studio Upstairs is very pleased to announce their creative collaboration with sculptor Jane Clarke – the efforts of which will be on show next Wednesday 27th at 7pm.

Jane Clarke has created an eight seater see-saw – the ultimate executive toy! Which poses questions around stress and workplace pain.

The see-saw is being used by the Studio Upstairs performance group as an interactive prop!

Jane Clarke


Answers on a postcard please…

Studio Upstairs is delighted to announce we will be taking part in the RA POSTCARDS project organised by Galleri VOX, in Norway – both Studio’s are hard at work producing postcards for this unquie project that will unite ‘Outsider’ Artists from across Europe! For you own chance to be involved check out their website: