A Space to Make – Carmel Mannion

Blackhorse Workshop is home to several artists who have come to use the space.  After graduating, artists are often hindered by the lack of suitable workshop space and facilities available to them. A space to work and to develop is essential to continue the journey of an artist.

Artist and metal-worker Carmel Mannion has been based at Blackhorse Workshop for the past two years, she has found a community and a space to work that she initially struggled to find. After graduating with a Fine Art degree, Irish-born Carmel took an opportunity to assist a sculptor in New York before heading back to London where she had previously spent a year a St Martin’s. Becoming a studio member at Blackhorse Workshop has played a crucial part in reigniting her career as an artist.

‘There is a lot of pressure when you leave college with the realisation that you have done a fine art degree and now what? You have to find the means and money, and then you end up not having the time to devote to your art work. You need some flexibility, it’s very easy to fall at that hurdle and decide that you can’t do it.’  Carmel worked at a magazine for two years, but she felt unhappy and conflicted and made a decision to return to her art work.

‘I just didn’t know how to get back into metalwork, there didn’t seem to be any available options or roads to get into metal workshop facilities. I ended up doing a course just to be able to have access to a metal workshop. I met a guy who suggested Blackhorse, I looked it up online and the next week I went in for an induction. Blackhorse opened up a space for me to come and get a studio and put a bit more time into making and working.’

Resolving the conflict she had felt made her more settled, ‘That’s not saying it was easy, I still had to consider how I was going to make money but despite that I knew it was right for me.’

Carmel has found a way to combine her artwork by keeping a part-time job and the odd fabrication commission. ‘I’m very conscious of not letting anything compromise that. I work three days a week and not five. It would be very upsetting to have that time taken away.’

‘It’s a peculiar enough way to spend your time, some people may wonder why do you need to find a metal workshop in Blackhorse Rd to make you feel balanced in life. Your wings are clipped if you don’t have the facilities to do this.’

What’s the best thing about Blackhorse Workshop?
‘I love Blackhorse, I needed something like this, it is a community of makers and communities are very important. and you need that.  It is supportive,  Rob the workshop manger and is always there to help and answer questions. I’ve learned so much, just from watching other people and it’s made me more confident in what I am doing.’

And what does the future hold for Carmel?
She would like to work more with wood but keeps finding herself drawn back to metal. For now Carmel is working on new projects, take a look at her piece ‘States’ here.