Meet the female-led art collective looking to take Suffolk by storm

The women of After Hours Collective

The women of After Hours Collective, Suffolk's first mum-friendly art collaboration. L-R: Aime Kearney, Dani Ryles (co-founder), Felicity Knights, Frankie Rose (co-founder), and Thaksala Haylock - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Life can be pretty hectic at times.  

Trying to juggle a career alongside raising a family, all while trying to find the time to immerse yourself in your hobby, can prove to be the ultimate struggle. 

That’s why two mothers from Ipswich have started an arts group with the aim of supporting and uplifting women and mothers across Suffolk who wish to find the time to indulge their creative passions while connecting with like-minded individuals.  

Meet Dani Ryles and Frankie Rose, the masterminds behind After Hours Collective - a female-centric art collective.  

Frankie Rose (top left), and Dani Ryles (top right) decided to create an art group for busy women

Frankie Rose (top left), and Dani Ryles (bottom left) decided to create an art group for women who found they were too busy for traditional classes and workshops - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The two met at a hypnobirth class when they were both pregnant with their sons back in 2019, and the rest, as they say, is history.  

“We started meeting up once the boys were both born, and we started talking about how we missed that creative element in our lives once we became mums, and found ourselves with a lot less time than before,” explains Dani.  

Dani Ryles of Apricot Poodle

Dani Ryles of Apricot Poodle - Credit: Brittany Woodman

“We noticed there were a lot of classes on in the evening, but it was hard to get to them. Or they’d be on in the daytime but they weren’t child-friendly. There wasn’t anything on offer for mums with young children – and that’s how the idea of After Hours came about.” 

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Dani’s educational background is in graphic design, while Frankie’s is in photography. The two, who both teach at Suffolk New College, understand more than anyone the importance of being able to find the time to be creative while still being a mum.  

Frankie Rose of Frankie Rose Illustration

Frankie Rose of Frankie Rose Illustration - Credit: Brittany Woodman

“I moved into teaching at the college about six or seven years ago, but I still work as a freelance illustrator where I run my own online shop and do various commissions. Dani also still does freelance design and illustration on the side, too,” explains Frankie. 

With bags of expertise and experience behind them, they decided to set up the group in order to reach out to other local creatives to get together and connect, sharing ideas and skills.  

Some of Felicity Knights' embroidered pieces

Some of Felicity Knights' embroidered pieces - Credit: Brittany Woodman

“We set everything up last year, and we planned our first meetup which was a drawing workshop but that ended up being the first week of lockdown. Obviously that didn’t happen, so we made everything virtual, where we shared each others’ work, and how we were using the time in keep creative during lockdown,” explains Dani.  

“When we were allowed, we started having some socially-distanced drawing meetups and picnics once the rules allowed it. Because we’re all of different abilities and skillsets, we aim to all help each other out with our small businesses.” 

Alongside founders Frankie and Dani, three other key members help run and oversee After Hours Collective.  

There’s mum-of-two and art technician Aime Kearney who specialises in hand-drawn illustrations, papercutting and screen printing; mum-of-one and teaching assistant Felicity Knights who also runs an embroidery business; and full-time primary school teacher, mum-of-one and collage artist Thaksala Haylock.  

Felicity Knights, who runs Annie Honey Stitches

Felicity Knights, who runs Annie Honey Stitches - Credit: Brittany Woodman

“Felicity, for instance, does loads of markets and that’s her main focus, so when we all did a market together, she was brilliant in helping all of us. And when Thaksala was setting up her Etsy shop, she called me; and Aime called Dani when she needed a logo for her shop,” says Frankie. 

Aime Kearney of Aime K Studio

Aime Kearney of Aime K Studio - Credit: Brittany Woodman

“That’s the beauty of the collective – we just want to help each other succeed and be the best we can be.”  

Thaksala Haylock, who runs Inky and the Bear

Thaksala Haylock, who runs Inky and the Bear - Credit: Brittany Woodman

And so far, the group have already gotten their name out there and together showcased their work at a number of events and exhibits across the county, including Felixstowe’s WAMFest, and a window display takeover at Ipswich’s Loveone.  

“The theme of the Loveone display was nature, and we had free reign of the shop window. We were then able to sell our artwork through the shop. It was a fun experience, and it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the collective and all of us working together,” explains Dani.  

“It’s also been a lifesaver over lockdown - the group chat has certainly saved my sanity. It was definitely invaluable when you couldn’t physically see and meet other creatives.” 

And while the group is still in its infancy stage, as the quintet juggle their extracurriculars alongside their jobs and parenthood, they’re incredibly excited to grow. 

“The most recent meet-up we had back in October at Cult Café, and there were about 10 of us in total – us five key members and five new faces. It’s been great to expand our circle, and it’s amazing to discover how many passionate, artistic women there are locally who all want to develop their skills and share their ideas.   

“If we hadn’t started After Hours Collective, we might not have crossed paths with them, and we’re so excited to nurture new connections as we grow Suffolk’s creative identity.” 

To find out more about the After Hours Collective, visit instagram.com/after_hours_collective 

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