I’m trying to force myself to imagine a Southampton without the Art House, and I can’t, I really can’t. There isn’t anywhere else like it. When I first moved to Southampton I thought it was a brutal, unfriendly place. I was creative, introverted, had found a home in cities like Oxford and Brighton, but I didn’t feel like there was anywhere for me in Southampton. Until I went to the Art House. It was quirky, bohemian, shambolic, relaxed, creative and HOME. I breathed, I thrilled, I wrote down dates and times of workshops, I started to feel like I belonged. The Art House has been a refuge for so many of us who don’t fit, who are odd or creative, or both, who don’t feel at home in Starbucks schmoozeville, who’ve wanted to try out creative things but not had much cash, who have just wanted a friendly, safe, welcoming place to be, to meet new people, to explore and learn and absorb and make. Imagine all the things that they do right now – the music, the art and writing workshops, the lovely cake, the crafts and gorgeous covetable jewellery. Where would all that go? Would it all survive, without the Art House’s central location and affordable hire rates? Where would 2021’s version of me, new to the city, shy and lost, go to find friends and welcome? Please support this beloved Southampton institution: we’ve lost so much, and we can’t lose it. We just can’t.
Today I treated myself. I had a short walk on the common with Skye and then we headed to our favourite place in town. The Art House, warm and welcoming, friendly people, good music. Enjoying a quiet moment in such a space, sat on a comfy sofa my dog on her blanket snuggled next to me. Reading a good book and tucking into a slice of pizza, hot chocolate and some cake. The Art House really is a haven in the centre of our city and Southampton would be a lot poorer without it. Please, if you haven’t already donate to their fundraiser.