Can artists still afford to work in London?
Frieze talk will look at the ways artists are adapting to rising costs and redevelopment in the capital.
Rising rents and widespread redevelopment are forcing many artists to leave London. Others, however, are finding alternative ways to navigate the changing landscape of the city’s art scene. This is the topic of one of the talks at Frieze London this year (14-17 October), co-organised by Gregor Muir, the executive director at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Christy Lange, an associate editor at Frieze magazine.
Titled “Off Centre”, the talk will “very much [be] about the provision of artists’ studios and the changing narrative of London as an artistic centre, given the pressure on artists to relocate”, Muir says, noting the imminent demolition of Cremer Street Studios in Hackney, which will displace more than 200 artists.
Although the flight of artists is a very real concern—Munira Mirza, the deputy mayor for education and culture in London, is due to publish a report this autumn on the shortage of affordable studio space in the capital—Muir says the talk will also focus on the positives. “It’s an attempt to analyse how artists adapt and evolve in these situations,” he says.
One of the ways artists are responding is to organise themselves collectively, reclaiming derelict buildings and transforming them into art spaces and studios such as The Depot in Clapton, east London, and The Woodmill in Bermondsey, south London.
Other artists are producing works that aim to ignite debate about the culture and diversity of London. Rebecca Ross, a lecturer in communication design at Central St Martins, has created London is Changing, a year-long public art project that tells the stories of people affected by the socio-economic changes in London, with some responses displayed on billboards earlier this year.
If artists are adapting, so too are organisations such as the educational arts charity Bow Arts, which opened 79 new studios at the former site of News International in Wapping, east London, in June. “We are always talking to local authorities, developers, landlords and business owners looking for buildings and new business models so we can provide affordable and sustainable places for our artists to use,” says Marcel Baettig, the founder and chief executive of Bow Arts.
Other panels being organised by Muir as part of the Frieze London talks programme include “The New Museums”, which will focus on the recent boom in museum building around the world, whether endless expansion is a good thing and the challenges museums face in securing funding for the future. Speakers for both talks are still to be confirmed.
Details of the Frieze Masters talks programme have also yet to be announced. It is being co-organised by Jasper Sharp, the adjunct curator for Modern and contemporary art at the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna, and Jennifer Higgie, the co-editor of Frieze magazine and the editor of Frieze Masters magazine