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Bencke Laukku


Address:  Suite 6, Level 1, Building 3, Market Square, 113-145 Hunter Street, Newcastle
Hours: By appointment
Property Donor: Newcastle City Council
Launched: 19 September 2014
Closed:  1 July 2016

Gillian Bencke
e: [email protected]
Alicia Kropkowski
e: [email protected]

Project Update
Gillian and Alicia have decided to take their practices home for the rest of 2016.

Gillian has started to work with wood and has found a familiar bench space in her parent’s garage for some new work in small scale carving, while continuing her making in textiles at home.
Alicia has converted a home space into a studio and is developing a new range of her beautiful bags which can still be found at Studio Melt.

“For both of us Renew has been an invaluable platform to focus our practices and launch our ideas into real products and artworks. The Renew Newcastle team were an incredible support in all areas, especially when we needed it most.  Sharing a studio space together and next to other makers like ourselves allowed us to help each other practically, and connect with a wider group of people that we were otherwise unaware of before we began our Renew project.  We will always be interested in the things Renew is doing and hope to be actively part of it again when family commitments change.”

Who are you?
Gillian Bencke: I have a background in art and design. I am currently focusing on my art practice using textiles and found fabrics. My practice started in photography, installation and graphic design and over the years I somehow found myself sewing stuff.

Alicia Kropkowski: Creative business is a new venture for me after coming from an entirely different background. I was drawn to creative design after a friend of mine gave me some Finnish fabric as a gift. The beautiful fabric, along with the creative people around me, inspired me to create a range of handcrafted bags. I’m now exploring and developing my design ideas.

What do you do?
Gillian: I work as an artist and maker using primarily recycled textile in my exhibition pieces and commercial work. I work from the principle of rescuing and redistributing—taking meaning from the old and giving to the new. I am the maker behind my label bencke, which includes products as diverse as doll-type creatures, brooches, collars and more recently pouffs.

Alicia: I am the designer and maker of Laukku, a handcrafted range of carry bags and accessories. My work is about individual expression, finding the beautiful in the everyday, and quality craftsmanship, which results in products that are a joy to use.

What inspired you to get involved in Renew Newcastle?
We met each other when we started working at Studio Melt when it was still involved with Renew Newcastle at the time. We realised we had both outgrown the ability to work from our homes, and thought it would be great to get a Renew space together that was big enough to house our own work, sewing desks plus machines, fabric shelving and as big a cutting table as possible. In Renew Newcastle we saw the opportunity to combine our equipment as well as develop collaborative ideas. We also saw the chance to engage with the community.

What are you doing in your new space?
We are making stuff. The space is set up with our fabric and machines. We are enjoying the benefits of working side by side on our individual projects. We look forward to presenting our space to the public during walking tours, open studio days or even our own organised events that showcase what ideas have hatched in our studio.