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Things for families at East Quay

February 2021

East Quay in Watchet will be a space where culture, creativity and imagination are celebrated together. It will be a contemporary art gallery, a handmade paper mill, a creative education space, a print studio, maker and artist studios, a place to eat, accommodation pods and a geology workshop. It will run courses, workshops, events and activities all year round. Opening summer 2021.

Our aim is to help you entertain the kids throughout the year on a budget, especially in the winter when everything seems to be indoors, and cost mega-bucks! At East Quay, we are passionate about welcoming children, young people and families all year round, with many activities offered for free or for a small donation to cover costs. Here are some of the ways in which you and your family can enjoy East Quay when it opens this July 2021.

During school holidays, we will develop a broad and busy programme of creative workshops to keep kids of all ages entertained, sometimes linked to exhibitions and sometimes just for fun! The popular Kids Art Days which ran at Contains Art, will also be making a comeback, providing some much-missed opportunities: collaborative messy play for the kids (leave the clearing up to us!); and a drink, yummy food and a chat in the courtyard/cafe for parents!

For pre-schoolers, activities will run throughout the year with tailored opportunities for babies and toddlers.

Regular home-school events will provide creative opportunities for home-schooled individuals to collaborate with others and develop friendships with like-minded peers.

In addition to drop-in activities and events, we are excited to re-launch our after-school art clubs. These we piloted in 2018/19 with the middle schools, enabling students to develop skills in painting, 3D form, metalwork and digital drawing with local artists, specialists in their field. East Quay will be launching art clubs to provide similar opportunities for children and young people in the area to support them in developing a wide range of creative skills. In time we will offer whole-day arts events as we have in the past to school-aged children during the holidays.

We will also be working closely with local schools, providing an extended classroom, both in house at East Quay and through outreach work further afield. We are already working hard to bring the arts and culture to life with a range of exciting, curriculum-linked opportunities for students of all ages.

Our creative education space has itself been co-designed by Year 8 students at Danesfield and Minehead Middle Schools, along with multi-disciplinary architectural practice PEARCE+Fægan, and promises to be an experience in itself!

There will be lots of other things to visit at East Quay too. For example Two Rivers Paper and Geckoella will share their specialist skills, celebrating Watchet’s industrial heritage and its geological past. There will also be print makers, painters, sculptors and more.

We are also supporting schools by creating a series of ‘creativity boxes’, developed by artists and creatives in collaboration with teachers and school children. These will be available from this September for hire by schools (free for West Somerset schools) to support creativity within the curriculum. This loan service aims to support teachers in delivering unusual and ambitious STEAM learning sessions, with creative endeavour at their core. These along with the workshops to co-design the Education space have been funded through the West Somerset Opportunity Area.

You will be able to visit the gallery free of charge, to see exhibitions. Our first exhibition is called More Together Than Alone. Co-curated by Neville Gabie (artist in residence at the 2012 Olympics) the show is all about celebrating the power of community. It will display bottles made by local people who have put their feelings about the Watchet community inside bottles. The show will also have exhibits from national artists who are producing work that responds to the bottles by local people. If you would like to make your own bottle for the show, with your family find out more information at the Contains Art website

The restaurant, called East Quay Kitchen, will be child friendly and will serve breakfast and lunch, and dinner on some evenings. On a dry day you’ll also be able to sit out in the courtyard with your coffee and plate of something delicious and enjoy the buzz of activity around you.

You'll be able to watch live music and see performances or spoken word events. Often held in the outside courtyard space people will be able to watch and join in, or you could even climb to the first floor, lean on the parapet and watch from above.

Or you might invite friends to stay in one of the five bespoke accommodation pods, one of which sleeps 4, one of which could sleep 4 with camp beds, the others sleep 2. These pods are designed the adventurous traveller. They are beach-hut like spaces, each one will be different, playful and interactive.

All this and more will ensure there are always accessible opportunities for children and young people to connect and engage with art and East Quay. We can’t wait to welcome you and your family later this year!

Images from top:

  1. Kids Art day at Contains Art, photo credit: Jill Newton

  2. Kids Art day at Contains Art

  3. Children from Yr. 8 Danesfield working with architects Pearce+Faegen to help design the education space at East Quay

  4. Bottle of Watchet by Alison Pentland

  5. Fay enjoying an event in the courtyard

  6. Illustration by Andy Council at the Pearce+Faegen workshop

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