A TALENTED collection of artists is creating artwork for the 21st century in a Bolton mill where the shuttles once flew and cotton was king.

The Falcon Mill Artists Studios — or FaMAS — is starting life on the first floor of the famous mill in the heart of Halliwell that once produced some of Bolton’s highest quality material.

The imposing structure in Handel Street, built in 1908 and which closed in 1994, is a Grade II-listed building currently undergoing a big renovation programme.

Part of that is the artists’ wing at the back of the sprawling site, which now runs the whole length of the landmark building. It boasts 11 newly created studios, with a couple still vacant, and includes one given for 12 months rent-free to a new university graduate.

“It is to try to give them a really good start, and help them with an exhibition later,” said Pete Marsh. He is artist in charge of FaMAS and has been at Falcon Mill for around two years. He is a former Advanced Skills Teacher at Canon Slade School in Bolton, and used to teach life drawing, painting and drawing and history of art in an adult education programme in Oldham.

Mr Marsh is already established as a successful full-time artist and printmaker, and has exhibited at galleries all over the country.

“I’m in the process of setting up a Community Interest Company here, which is non-profit making, and through this I can encourage local people to express themselves through art,” he added.

In the meantime, he is busy establishing the art studios at the mill in a spacious area that includes its own kitchen and toilet facilities and a ‘dirty area’ for all the messy work artists would prefer not to do in their own studios.

Most importantly of all, it has a long, impressive exhibition space that could easily house work of all kinds as well as possibly work as a venue for classes.

“It’s a very exciting project here,” said Mr Marsh. “We already have painters and a ceramicist in the studios. They are all here as individuals — although it’s good to be surrounded by artists and have that common ground.”

The units come in a couple of sizes, with the larger studios rented out at around £100 a month including electricity.

“The mill is a great environment for artists, a great place to work,” added Mr Marsh. “This whole development at Falcon Mill is fascinating and will become a really interesting and productive centre. So it’s satisfying to be involved with it so early on and to be joined by other artists.”

l To find out more about FaMAS, contact Pete Marsh on 07763 567500