In August 2020, a new shop called Ecohustler opened at the top of Catherine Hill. Sadly, since then until now it has been shut for at least half of that time, due to Covid-19. Last week Fabulous Frome went to meet the man behind Ecohustler, Matt Mellen.
So Matt, what is Ecohustler?
"Ecohustler is effectively the office and HQ for the online magazine www.ecohustler.com, which is an independent online magazine with a global reach of millions. Our mission is to bring people unexpected, entertaining, ecological content with a focus on connecting with nature and each other, celebrating wildlife and protecting it, so that we can all become a part of the solution to environmental breakdown."
What can people expect to find in Ecohustler?
"When setting up the office, we decided to cover the walls in ecological art and approached a melange of different artists, so it started becoming a sort of pop-up gallery and shop, as well as the Ecohustler magazine HQ."
"We're really proud to be displaying the works of 4 local artists in the shop:
"Although we are keen to support local artists when the opportunity comes up, we don't just exhibit artists from Frome, we also have artists from East and West London.
"A main artist who came to our opening drinks evening and whom we now exhibit is the mosaic artist Carrie Reichardt, most famous for her mosaic mini bonnet (see below). She has mosaicked her entire house in the past and is renowned for her feminist political activism.
"Whenever she does a show she always makes a series of prints for the town she is in (whether it be in London, Margate or Frome) - and we currently have 20 prints of 'Mad in Frome' in stock -10 in red and 10 in blue, which is part of the Carrie series."
What are your prices like in comparison to other art shops?
"Our prices range from affordable art positioning tiles (below) by Carrie Reichardt (signed) which are £25 a piece, to £3,500 for Carrie's Bonnet (below). Unframed prints start at £75."
What are the advantages of coming to you as an art shop?
"Carrie Reichardt is an internationally recognised artist; she’s not in any other gallery around the world. She has had a show at the V&A but is unique to the EH gallery."
Below is another of her mosaics.
What made you decide to set up in Frome?
"Because it's the centre of the universe!" (Matt chuckles)
What are your current opening hours?
"Our current opening hours are Thursday - Saturday, from 10am - 5pm, but if people want to meet at the shop at other times they can call me on 07811 205510 to make appointment."
How has lockdown affected you?
"We had to totally close. We only opened in August last year, and we've been shut for at least half of that since then. Although we managed to get a small grant, it's been a challenge making enough to stay open, so now that we are again, we are busy thinking about other things we can do to attract business, such as pop-up drinks evenings."
Matt moved to Somerset in 2015 and has worked previously as a professional environmental campaigner. Now that he is running the shop and the magazine it is a new development in his chapter and skillset.
(Matt Mellen with a painting by Alexandra Brown above him).
Matt got married last year in September 2020 to Nicola, who helped him set up the shop. They recently had baby Oona, who is 3 months old.
Nicola is a keen up-cycler and in future she may run workshops for people teaching them how to up-cycle effectively. Here is an example of her incredible up-cycling:
The Final Word
"This part of Badcox in Frome is extremely up and coming with Lotte's having put it on the map - who knows, this time next year we might be doing pop-up drinks with a row of art galleries along the street! In fact, we've got a new pop up bar series starting soon on Saturday 17th July, which will have great tunes, an outdoor space and fantastic art to look at, so come down and enjoy!" (Matt Mellen)
To get in touch with the gallery or Matt, please call 07811 205510 or email email@example.com.