A short history of Griffin Mill
Makers Spaces – Pegasus Art
written for Good on Paper magazine by Sarah Edmonds
If I had a pound for every time one of our customers said, “Pegasus Art has a lovely atmosphere,” I’d be rich! It really does have a warm and welcoming character, thanks to the artist staff who love working here and Jane Fisher, our Director and art materials expert extraordinaire. We wholeheartedly appreciate working in this handsome, three story 17th century red brick mill building on the outskirts of Stroud – our staff walk to work along the canal in all weathers (yes, even snow) following in the footsteps of the mill workers who criss-crossed up and down the Stroud valleys in the mid 18th century. These giants of mill buildings, crouching on the valley floor, have housed craftsmen of one kind or another for the past hundred years – we are just the latest custodians!
Pegasus Art as an ‘artist hub’ is central to our culture – it was integral to Jane’s vision when she bought the business in 2005. It’s important that we support our burgeoning artist community in whatever endeavours or challenges they face, aiding their toils and congratulating their successes. We are here for advice and technical support – if we don’t stock what you want, we will try and find it!
To that end, as well as regular art classes and a growing programme of day workshops, we currently have eight studios occupied by a variety of practising artists. Their presence adds a working energy to the walls of the building – things are being created, projects are devised, then completed. The artists themselves feel part of a mutual endeavour sharing ideas and challenges, exploring new materials, enjoying simple conversation and a sense of community. A highlight of the year is coming together as a collective for Open Studios, it’s a focus to create and present work to the wider world, distil themes and ideas and talk directly to art lovers and collectors.
Last Summer was spent stripping back, plastering and painting the space under the eaves that had been unloved and unappreciated for many years. Jane had always seen it’s potential and after a few months of careful renovation, it began to reveal itself. In October last year, we hosted our first event with paint and ink manufacturer Cranfield Colours ~ the attic came alive with the burble of convivial artists, discussion and debate. It prompted a renewed interest in its former use and we discovered some intriguing facts, with the help of Stroud Historical Society.
As with so many commercial buildings, Griffin Mill has housed a variety of businesses in the last century, but we have been able to establish that its founders were the Griffin family who built the mill in 1599 for cloth manufacture. It is well documented that this cloth would have been taken by horse and cart to Brimscombe Port, down the Stroudwater Canal to Thames barges who carried the goods eastward to London. It remained a textile mill until 1856 until it was converted into a saw mill, with part of the building producing umbrella sticks by the Hooper family until 1901. Henry Hooper emigrated to Canada with his wife Florence and Griffin Mill changed hands again. The particulars listed the industrial assets: “Griffin Mill – comprising of three large mills, workshops and sheds equipped with powerful steam engines, boilers, water wheels and a costly modern machinery and plant.” In human form, Griffin Mill would be a strong and handsome man, shouldering the weight of industry! Next came Tyler’s of Thrupp, renowned cabinet makers, who remained on this site until 1956.
During the Second World War, the mill turned its attention to war work and women were directed to build, astonishingly, enormous Horsa glider wings in the large space under the eaves. These gliders had a wing span of up to twenty seven metres, and without engines they were instrumental in dropping soldiers over enemy lines undetected. There is an undeniable symbiosis between the large stretched canvases that we currently build for artists, and the wooden framed canvas wings of these gliders. It’s a fact that is not lost on our in-house canvas makers whose largest canvas to date was 2m x 2m, carefully carried out of the fire escape, boxed up in the hallway and shipped to Holland! It is purported that there were huge double doors at the far end of the building where the completed wings were floated out.
When the attic was initially cleared out, nails and screws were found floating in enormous blocks of resin that had dripped off the end of the glue-ing base. Each bay was once a work station, with beams and joists decorated with posters of the time – we have uncovered a train excursion poster, a flyer for ‘Aldridges’ and their Christmas stock of dolls for 2 ½ d and a book signing for ‘From the Coal Pit to the Platform’ ! We continue to craft and create in this wonderful building and welcome all artists and art lovers to join our community.
We are delighted to announce new Art Talks in our Attic Studios in 2019. We are taking advantage of all our amazing suppliers and art tutors and asking them to share their knowledge and experience with our customers. Keep your eye on our newsletter and website for new talks: all available to book online. Everyone is welcome and all are priced at £5 – £8. The atmosphere at Pegasus is wonderful so please join us.
Saturday 11th May 7 – 8pm £5
with Sarah Wimperis
“For over forty years I have been travelling with my paintbrush. From the painting kit in an old wooden box that travelled all the way to China on the Trans-Siberian railway in 1984, where paintings literally saved my life, to my glorious travelling studio which I take with me across Europe, painting to commission and getting as much plein air painting done as humanly possible.
There are tales of painting with snakes in Israel, to frozen paint in Norway all the way to five months painting in Poland on the film, Loving Vincent.”
Friday 14th June 5 – 7pm £8
with Sarah Wimperis
An illustrated talk with artist Sarah Wimperis who painted for the Oscar nominated animated film ‘Loving Vincent’. She spent five months in Poland painting in the exact palette and style of Van Gogh. 1,300 litres of oil paint were used to make this film and Sarah painted four canvases EVERY day! Find out about the inner workings of this amazing film and join us for a convivial evening!
with David ‘DJ’ Johnson
Saturday 16th November 5 – 7pm £8
We’re thrilled that David ‘DJ’ Johnson has agreed to stay on after his workshop to regale us with stories of his extreme painting! As a passionate painter and climber, it seemed obvious to him that he should combine his two loves and paint in some pretty unusual environments! You’ll enjoy listening to tales of ‘The Beast from the East’ and frozen oil paints, while he demonstrates his techniques and takes questions from the audience.