Halifax's Wonder'neath Open Studio lets you make art for free

Wonder'neath Open Studio welcomes people of all ages to use the studio and art supplies for free — thanks to the new funding.

Isleville Street studio offers free art supplies Friday and Saturday afternoons

Elsie Jefferies, left, and Bridget Gray are both seven years old and like making sock puppets at the free art studio. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

If you like to make art, but have nowhere do that or no money to pay for it, a studio in Halifax's north end has a creative solution.

Wonder'neath Open Studio welcomes all artists and non-artists to use their space and materials for free.

It's such a hit that Halifax's 4Cs Foundation has just given it funding to operate all year on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Co-founder Melissa Marr says it's available to anyone interested in arts and creativity.

"It's not an intimidating space at all," Marr told CBC Radio's Information Morning. "There's projects for all levels."

Wonder'neath Open Studio is part of the larger Wonder'neath Artist Studios, which is made up of several small independent studios with 12 artists who work on site. Two of those artists, Marr and Heather Wilkinson, co-founded the open studio.

Marr says it's also a social space where people are welcome to chat. 

Wonder'neath Open Studio now has funding to stay open. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

There is one limitation to who can use the space. Marr says the site is unfortunately on the second floor, and right now the only way up is by stairs. She says she hopes one day they'll be able to make changes so that everyone can make use of the space.

Wonder'neath has all sorts of art supplies, and offers silk screening, linocut printing, needle felting, knitting, drawing, painting and more. There's also a sewing machine, two old typewriters and Lite-Brite.

"We have a range of materials that are precious and then also things that ... would be considered junk by anybody's standards," Marr said. "But if you look at them in the right way, [they] can be turned into something interesting."

'Just make art and chill out'

Lots of young children use the space, as well as adults and high school students, such as Madeline Putnum, a student at Citadel High School.

"It's great to just come here and space out on a Friday after a long week and just make art and chill out," Putnum said. 

"It's just amazing that there's this space that anyone can come and use it and there's all kinds of supplies — anything you would really want."

All the supplies are free at the studio, co-founders say. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

'A really beautiful kind of chaos'

Art participant Sara Bezanson says she first found out about the studio when she signed up for a print-making class at Wonder'neath in October. She's been dropping by ever since.

"There's no age limit," Bezanson said. "There's no barriers here. It's just a really beautiful kind of chaos."

​Oscar Legere, 11, says he likes to go to Wonder'neath at least once a week. His favourite activity is making pillows and other things from felt.

"I like how you always feel welcome here," Legere said. "It's fun."

Wonder'neath Open Studio is located at 2891 Isleville St. in Halifax.

About the Author

Phlis McGregor


Phlis McGregor is a journalist with Information Morning in Halifax.