Local Artist and Artpod creator Sharon Mee’s business came to a crashing halt when Covid hit in March 2020.

Left with boxes and boxes of arts and crafts usually used for children’s art classes, Sharon came up with the idea of moving her classes to zoom but also delivering themed art bags full of materials to children so they could still maintain their creativity together.

The project was so successful with parents & carers citing the emotional wellbeing that the sessions created for their children, that Sharon and her colleague Paris, developed the idea even further.

Sharon said, ” I asked people to nominate a local postie, cleaner, NHS worker, shopkeeper, refuse worker etc so that I could send their children a free ArtBag. Themed ArtBags were filled with my new & pre-loved arts & crafts materials as well as odds & ends collated over the years. We donated and delivered them to the children of nominated key workers. This incentive became ‘Tag an Unsung Hero’. In the past 12 months, over 1000 themed ArtBags and Tag a Hero ArtBags have been delivered to children of key workers & vulnerable families all across the UK.

Sharon continued, “Then came the idea of Bristle and Sketch. I realised that key workers and parents might also need a welcome distraction in lockdown, so I sought to develop a creative wellbeing class that could be delivered online, with a postable art kit containing a bottle of wine, which could be delivered to participants at home. The online classes brought families, friends and work colleagues together to re-connect in a fun and creative way up and down the UK.

One of the families who made the most of Bristle and Sketch is the Frower Family from Brighton. During lockdown, both daughters were stuck at Leeds and Nottingham University so the parents and daughters used Bristle and Sketch every Saturday as a way to keep connected.

They said, “Sharon and the team really cheered up our lockdown Saturdays. We did a couple of courses and really enjoyed the mix of art and socialising and keeping in touch with our daughters. Sharon was a great teacher and inspired confidence in the least creative of us, she embraced the madness of a large group and added to the fun. We recommended her classes to friends in other parts of the country who were also separated from family and the idea caught on.”

The reaction to Bristle and Sketch was so successful that as soon as the lockdown restrictions were eased, Sharon and Paris decided to make Bristle and Sketch a permanent feature in Brighton and run the ‘Sip and Create’ events on a regular basis from Artpod in Rottingdean and the new Non for Profit art studios Fabricate in George Street, Kemptown.

Paris said, “All our workshops are suitable for complete beginners or for more experienced creative types who want to make the process their own.  Either way everyone is guaranteed to go home with a successful piece of artwork and the feeling that they have connected with other people.” We offer a variety of activities such as Paint & Prosecco, Willow and Wine, Cava and Clay with our alcoholic partner Carbo Wines and non alcoholic evenings with Zero Proof Events who supply mocktails, so there is always something for everyone.

Paris added, “We also want to use our workshops as a space for people to reignite their creative flairs, encourage creative & social wellbeing and create an event for people who may still be a bit wary of pubs, bars and clubs. Bristle & Sketch is an alternative place to mingle, listen to music, get creative and have some fun”.