Saltburn-by-the-Sea is a coastal town with a classic British seaside feel, elegant pier, famous cliff front and now, many thriving local businesses. Saltburn-born Ben Benoliel and his friend Neil Bedford, both familiar with the struggles endured by those in the creative field, felt a stay in Saltburn could be the perfect remedy for artists feeling overwhelmed by the industry and seeking inspiration outside of their studio. And so The Artist’s Pad was born.
Ben and Neil became friends whilst studying photography at London College of Fashion together, a bond that remained strong despite their careers taking them in different directions. Ben went into fashion photography at the beginning of the e-commerce boom, and Neil ‘got lucky’ in the editorial world shooting for publications, with a scholarship which would lead him to photograph some of the world’s most famous faces. The pair’s determination to give back to people experiencing what they did when they first entered the industry led them to create The Artist’s Pad together.
After establishing a career in London, Ben moved back up North to his home town of Saltburn and Neil, who had visited during his university years, jumped at the chance to follow.
‘I’d been planning on leaving London for 10 years or so,’ Neil explains, ‘and this property came up.’ Buying it with the view of moving closer to Ben and his wife Leanne, – who helps with the day-to-day running of The Artists Pad – Neil admits that after three weeks of living there he still felt home-sick and decided to return to his own home-town of Leeds. ‘In reality we’ve been able to start something far more beautiful because of that,’ he says.
Feeling almost like rabbits in the headlights when embarking on their careers in photography after university, Ben and Neil both knew how daunting entering the creative industry could be. ‘Neil and I are passionate about giving back,’ Ben explains. ‘We want people to know that it’s alright not to feel great.’ Ben highlights how difficult the art’s industry can be to enter, because of its competitive nature, but also to choose as a career, as they feel it can often be stigmatised by the older generation.
The idea to transform Neil’s house in Saltburn into The Artist’s Pad spiralled from their passion to give back to those who were experiencing similar feelings to those that they once had. ‘He already had the space and had talked about inviting people up to stay by the coast and it just snowballed from there,’ Ben says.
The more the pair discussed the concept, the more passionate they became. They decided to invite artists and creatives looking for a little downtime to stay in The Artist’s Pad, opening them up to a new world of inspiration in the house – while offering a quiet escape by the beach too. In exchange the visiting artists are encouraged to gift a piece of their own work, from illustrations to photography, to The Artist’s Pad for Ben and Neil to display, so The Artist’s Pad will be constantly evolving and changing with each artist’s visit. ’The idea is that it will never be finished,’ says Neil.
‘The place was a shell,’ Ben says, ‘but now it’s filled with things Neil and I have gathered over the years – both from jobs and our childhoods.’
‘Neil shot Ed Sheeran for the cover of Clash magazine and they used a big piece of artwork on a pane of glass so he could be photographed through it, afterwards he wrote a note to Neil and signed it. Those type of things lend themselves perfectly to the environment at The Artist’s Pad,’ says Ben.
‘The Artist’s Pad is decorated with whatever makes me laugh or smile – but I’d bankrupt us if I acted on every idea I had,’ Neil says.
You’ll find pink a pink fireplace in the living room, walls covered in artwork by some of the finest locally and internationally-renowned artists (including Deb Covell, Daft Apeth, Kevin Cummins, Alex Soth, Ritchie Culver and Bob Mitchell), and rooms adorned with quirky furniture collected by Ben and Neil over the past decade from iconic brands including Seletti and Tom Dixon. With more than 100 carefully-curated books too, by Andy Warhol and popular streetwear brands Stussy and Palace, there’s plenty to take inspiration from during your stay.
Perhaps one of the most iconic, growing, elements of The Artist’s Pad – aside from its contributions, of course – is the plate wall. Operating as a holiday let too, Ben and Neil have encouraged all their guests to contribute to The Artist’s Pad by leaving them plates. ‘The idea is that we leave a blank plate and a set of pens and invite them to leave a review or story of their trip on their plate, which is added to the kitchen wall,’ Ben explains.
‘It’s a way for everyone to get involved,’ says Neil, ‘whether it’s your granny and grandad or a family with children, we want our guests to show their love for The Artist’s Pad.’
The Artist’s Pad features much of Neil’s artistic, editorial-style work, alongside, eventually, the work of their Artist’s In Residence, which the pair are hoping will create an eclectic and unique showcase of art.
‘We had our first, what we’ve decided to call Artist in Residence, a few weeks ago,’ Ben says. ‘I had followed her on Instagram for a while, because her work was great, but also because she was from the North East, and after several conversations, I discovered she was just embarking on her career.’
‘She was 10 years behind us, and beginning to realise how tough the industry was, so it worked out perfectly to have her come and stay,’ he continues. ‘Speaking to her afterwards, she really appreciated it too.’
The Pad will never really be finished, as eventually the walls of the property will be taken over by the work of the Artist’s in Residence. ‘We consider the artists we invite to be serious artists or photographers, so we treat their work as any gallery would,’ Ben explains.
The Artists Pad is available to book directly from £99 per night at: www.theartistspad.co.uk