A daily routine is out of the question for The Sorting Office Studio Manager Ria Loveridge, as every working day for her is completely different from the last. From organising a studio event to fixing a broken down internet connection, it’s fair to say that variety is part of the job.
The Sorting Office is a unique studio home to 16 designer-makers based in the heart of Eastleigh. It was transformed in 2013 from an old postal sorting office by Eastleigh Borough Council, with support from the European-funded Recreate Project, to a lively studio, with the aim to create affordable work spaces for designer-makers and artists. The creative hub is managed by Ria from ‘a space’ arts.
“It’s certainly an interesting job,” said Ria, who oversees The Sorting Office three days a week.
“It’s impossible to describe my “typical” day because my role varies from day to day. Once I arrive in the mornings I generally check my emails and then get thrown into whatever needs doing that day. You could definitely say that I don’t work to a schedule.”
Ria manages two other studios as well as The Sorting Office with ‘a space’ arts, all of which are based across the region. The day to day running of a creative studio can include anything from looking after the building, liaising with the studio residents for upcoming events and in the case of The Sorting Office maintaining the hiring out of the Production House and Screen Printing Unit.
“A studio manager is certainly necessary and beneficial as it allows the residents to focus on their crafts and to spend their time developing their work. With me sorting out the day-to-day running of the studio it takes the pressure off of them so that they focus on what they do best, which is crafting and making.”
The Sorting Office is complete with a Production House, which can be externally hired for workshops or large scale projects such as set designs. The thriving hub also includes a Print Screening Unit, also hireable for experienced print makers or for workshop purposes.
Ria plays an important role in the organisation of The Sorting Office Open Studio Events, during which the studio is open to the public on two occasions per year to allow the designer-makers/artists to showcase and sell their work. The successful events have seen more than 5000 members of the public visiting over the past two years.
But events don’t always go to plan as Ria recalls:
“One year, just a few days before our Open Studios event, we discovered that a pregnant cat had given birth to kittens right underneath our Screen Printing Unit,” she laughed. “Thanks to the Cat Protection League it was easily sorted but it definitely wasn’t what I expected to be doing that day!”
With a job so busy and diverse, does the Studio Manager ever find her role too much sometimes?
“I love the fact that every day is so eventful… I don’t think I would thrive in this environment if I wasn’t kept busy all the time,” said Ria.
“If I had to choose three words to describe my job I can answer that very easily. It’s varied, exciting and most of all: aspirational.”
For more information on The Sorting Office, please visit www.sorting-office.co.uk.