The Gladstone Hotel has long been a creative hub in the West End, showcasing artists in the galleries and on stage. This spring, the work of artists comes to the Gladstone Café – but not on the walls, on the tables.
Other restaurants might order tableware from a large supplier, but we’re keeping it in the community through a very special partnership with an organization that’s doing a lot of good in the neighbourhood. An important part of keeping communities strong is creating opportunities and support for individuals impacted by homelessness, mental health, poverty and addiction.
In the West End, Inspirations Studio uses pottery to lift up marginalized women, giving them a creative outlet, developing their skills, encouraging personal growth, and building their confidence.
Founded in 1994, Inspirations Studio has been administered by several non-profits, but consistently has provided a space for marginalized women who are impacted by poverty, trauma, homelessness, mental and physical health and/or addictions.
Inspirations Studio aims to build a new sense of identity within the women who participate in the program, allowing them to experience the therapeutic nature of clay and feel supported emotionally and mentally. The studio focuses on three pillars – developing a creative practice in order to create stability in members lives, creating connections between members and the community and other artists, and providing supplemental income through selling work.
Women who qualify for the program participate in an 8-10 week course. Upon completion, they have the option to become members. As members, they have full studio access (and pay for their own materials), and act as peer mentors to new members.
The studio’s storefront showcases mugs, bowls, plates and more made by members. For every work purchased, the artist receives 80% of the sale, while the rest is re-invested in the studio to help with the operational costs and supplies.
The Gladstone is commissioning plates and bowls for the Cafe by 3 members of the studio. We had the pleasure of speaking to one of the artists working on the Gladstone commission, and found out why this experience is extra special to her.
Meet Judith, a long time Toronto artist who has been attending Inspirations Studio for over 10 years. Struggling with severe trauma and addiction in her youth, Judith calls the Inspirations program her saviour, explaining that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the therapeutic nature of clay. She describes her work with pottery as a way of keeping grounded and accountable, as well as dedicating time to working on bettering herself. She says that when she’s in the studio her sole focus is on making something beautiful, which eliminates outside anxieties that she tends to carry with her.
Over the time spent at Inspirations learning the practice of pottery, she explains how she has grown stronger, not only mentally but physically. This combination makes her capable of throwing heavy plates like the ones she is making for the hotel.
Judith grew up in the West End, hanging out at the Gladstone before it was restored in 2001. Having her plates selected for the hotel is a “full circle moment”, feeling excited and proud of creating something beautiful for her old stomping ground.
The Gladstone Café launches a new menu this spring, and there’s no better way to introduce our latest locally-sourced food than on gorgeous locally-sourced tableware.
Learn more about the program, classes and how to get involved at Inspirations Studio