The Tetley

The Learning Studio Commission



Participation sits at the heart of The Tetley’s ethos as a centre of contemporary art and learning.

A dedicated Learning Studio is an essential feature of The Tetley – a space that hosts a range programmes, projects and workshops where people of all ages and backgrounds can participate in, learn from and enjoy contemporary art.

This space is used for a broad range of activities by a variety of learners from adults in art classes, primary school children at our after school club and visiting college and university students to parents and their little ones engaging in messy play.

With the support of the George Martin Trust and The Kirkby Foundation we have been able to realise our ambition to commission artists to transform the Learning Studio into a stimulating creative environment that is both practical and comfortable.

An open submission process attracted nearly 20 entries from across the UK. It was a challenging brief, to create an environment that was not only aesthetically pleasing but also a flexible and durable environment for participation activity.

The winning submission was awarded to Seiko Kinoshita and John Thatcher, who both hold studios at Yorkshire Artspace in Sheffield. A textile designer and furniture designer respectively, they have collaborated several times previously on mixed media projects.

The final design, developed in collaboration with The Tetley Curatorial team, brings the space to life incorporating flexible seating and worksurfaces as well as a range of storage solutions and display systems relevant to the wide variety of practical activities that will take place in the Learning Studio. The newly designed space launches in July 2015.

John and Seiko say of their work:

“Our aim is to provide a creative and stimulating environment which is also a comfortable and practical place in which to hold a workshop for up to 30 people. Through reflecting on The Tetley’s artistic programme, we designed bespoke furniture that looks both contemporary and somewhat like abstract sculpture.”

The development of the Learning Studio has been supported by The Kirkby Foundation, The Sir George Martin Trust, Arts Council England and Leeds City Council.


Seiko Kinoshita
Seiko is a Japanese artist who lives and works in Sheffield. On gaining a Rotary International study scholarship, she came to the UK to study MA Textile Design at Nottingham Trent University and later moved to Sheffield in 2002 to take a two year Starter Studio Programme at Yorkshire Artspace. In recent years, her technique has broadened, exploring new materials and working collaboratively with other professionals to achieve unique commissioned artworks such as #Hexwall at The Silk Mill, Derby (2014) with John Thatcher. She is currently working with a bio-medical researcher at Sheffield University to produce a collaborative work for the Krebs Festival.

John Thatcher
John Thatcher makes bespoke furniture to commission and one-off pieces for exhibition using timbers from sustainable sources. From his workshop in the award winning Yorkshire Artspace building in Sheffield, John makes furniture that is deliberately simple and robust in form. He prefers a contemporary style that emphasises the beauty of natural wood grains and patterns.