The Steel Shed on Leith's Ocean Drive - previously used as a secure wartime building, a first aid centre and a paint/chemical store - is about to be regenerated again; its latest incarnation is a vibrant new artistic centre, the 'DOK artist space', which has its official launch on Thursday June 2nd.
The centre will include affordable art studios, exhibition and performance space. The folk behind it are also keen for it to become a gateway into art for the wider community of Leith, including tuition and workshop opportunities.
The project is all down to three locally based artists who recently graduated from Edinburgh College of Art - Daryl McKee, Olivia Turner and Karen Fleming (hence the acronym D-O-K). When they learned that Ocean Terminal wanted to make use of this semi-derelict listed building (on the waterfront behind the car park - next to jetty with an Antony Gormley sculpture), the trio came up with this vision for a new use.
Since then they have determinedly battled against the odds to make it happen, putting in the hard graft with a minimum of budgets.
On my visit I was really impressed by the building as well as the work done by the three women - it's a fantastic space for art. Originally built to keep safe the plans for naval battleships, it's an incredibly sturdy building which could withstand a fair amount of flak from German bombers. With riveted seams and ship's portholes, it offers more than a nod to Leith's industrial heritage, and it's good to see there are plans to turn part of it into a small museum space for shipbuilding items. The founders also have permission and plans in place to make use of the nearby shipping containers for further artistic ventures.
DOK is one of many strands of the 'creative hub', given space and support by the team at Ocean Terminal. Others include Scottish Design Exchange (a not-for-profit shop for local designers ware), Limitless Scotland (promoting Scottish independent brands) and Kalopsia (a textile collective which provides micro-manufacturing space for new textile start-ups), all within the centre itself.
The DOK launch sees them host their first major exhibition, 'Sugar Cane' featuring a wide range of artists. The exhibition will run from 3rd – 5th June.
Best of luck to the team, I think it's a great new space for brilliant creatives of Leith to make and showcase their talents, and hopefully get many more people inspired and involved.