The London-based artist Antony Gormley opened up his cavernous David Chipperfield-designed King’s Cross studio last night (7 March) to a lively gathering that included property developers, architects, entrepreneurs and local council officers to launch Studiomakers, an initiative to help tackle London’s increasingly chronic shortage of affordable creative space.
Gormley’s guests, which included Munira Mirza, London’s deputy mayor for education and culture and Justine Simons, the mayor of London’s head of culture, were treated to an entertaining film of the artist’s perambulations around London, which included living in a “short boat”, a Camden squat, a house in Peckham, and for the past 25 years King’s Cross.
Gormley then made an eloquent plea to save the capital’s “rich and hybrid city life”, declaring that “what an artist needs, more than talent and determination, is space”. Gormley had a few of those present shifting in their seats when he said that, “for many in the artistic community, developers are the enemy” before adding that the purpose of the evening and the Studiomakers initiative was an “attempt to build a bridge” between these sectors and create “something more exciting for everybody”.
There was a lot of energy in the air as the key members of the Studiomakers partnership between the Outset Contemporary Art Fund, Second Home, the Mayor of London’s cultural team, Create and PLP Architecture, extolled the cultural and economic benefit of having artists in the capital. And they appealed to London’s property developers to integrate artists’ studios into their new developments, or find spaces in the existing buildings that they are developing. The plan is that Studiomakers will facilitate the brokering of relationships between artists, designers and other creative individuals, and the army of property developers to hopefully allow a bit of space for creativity in the current building boom.
Munira Mirza reiterated the grim statistic that over the next five years London stands to lose a third of its studio spaces. The challenge to enable London’s artists to remain in the areas of the city that their presence helped to develop in the first place, promises to be a very considerable one.