The Living Room opens £55k art room

By: Roz Waters

Published: 13:33, 09 November 2023

A SWAY charity has officially opened a new £55,000 bespoke art space for people with dementia and mental health issues.

The Living Room, which has been created in the grounds of SPUDWORKS in Sway has been designed as a space for creative collaborations between community groups including older people, those living with dementia and LGBTQ+ young people.

spudWORKS, Sway, New Forest. Newly opened 'Living Room' building.

SPUD director Mark Drury said: “Many of us have been affected by mental health, my own family included. We want to help make and improve people’s health and well-being through creative, artist led activities. If The Living Room project helps create a moment of happiness and positive new memories for them then the project will have achieved its goal.”

The Living Room is described as a modest structure which has been built using Douglas Fir and English Cedar Shingles on the site of an old water tower in the grounds of the community art gallery and workshop space. It has been designed to offer a private, warm and secure environment set in a beautiful sensory garden.

Mark said: “We want it to be a source of happiness and enjoyment that helps members of our community feel valued and part of something that enriches their world.


The space features the latest 180 degree projection, light and sound to create an immersive environment. SPUD use the space for workshops tailored to a wide variety of participants.

Technology will be incorporated into the design to enable users to access coloured lighting, sound systems, and large-scale wall projections.

Mark said: “You can imagine the whole back wall will be a plain canvas so we can project around half the building. So you could say I want to be in a woodland, and project a forest 180 degrees onto the wall; you could play bird songs and the sounds of leaves rustling.”

The Living Room has been funded with support from many local individuals, corporate sponsors and Arts Council England, Beaulieu Beaufort Trust, Arts University Bournemouth and Hampshire County Council.

The concept centres around activities that can be undertaken away from the noise and hubbub of the main building. It could be used for one-to-one sessions, small group classes, or even as a workspace for vulnerable artists.

The SpudWorks site currently features a gallery space, artist studios, craft workshops, creative office spaces, and community areas. The disused brick water tower is the last building to be redeveloped on the site.

For more information on The Living Room project, visit or call Mark on 01590 682260.


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