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The form, function and future of the artists' studio

Ellard, Graham and Harvey, Jonathan and Echarte, Arantxa (2010) The form, function and future of the artists' studio.

Type of Research: Other
Creators: Ellard, Graham and Harvey, Jonathan and Echarte, Arantxa

In July 2010, Acme Studios and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London began a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership. KTP is a part government-funded programme which helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base. KTP is funded by the Technology Strategy Board along with the other government funding organisations.

This is the first time Fine Art practice has been the subject of a KTP; the project has generated significant interest and it is hoped will pave the way for other arts-based KTPs.

The project reviews the changing form and function of the artists’ studio in relation to contemporary art practice through an extensive programme of research, studio visits and interviews. The culmination of the KTP will be new briefs for design specifications and management protocols for future artists’ studios, which will help ensure that Acme continues to provide and manage studios which meet the changing needs of artists. Critically it is also an opportunity more generally for Acme to engage in a creative dialogue which explores and challenges how it operates now and in the future. The project’s findings will be made public through lectures, conferences, symposia, case studies and a publication in 2012.

Securing a KTP to develop new designs for artists’ studios, based on robust research into current and emergent fine art practice, is a very important next step for Acme and of value to the affordable studios sector as a whole. The project will enable Acme to ensure that its support of artists in economic need with high-quality, permanent, affordable space is in tune with their changing requirements. The research from the KTP is already impacting upon decisions being made by Acme concerning their future business models and acquisition of studio space.

The project is being undertaken by Arantxa Echarte, the Artists’ Studios Research and Development Associate, who is based with Acme full-time. Arantxa is employed by the university and jointly supported by Graham Ellard for Double agents, the research project based at Central Saint Martins which he leads with Professor Anne Tallentire, and Acme Chief Executive Jonathan Harvey. The total budget for the project is £130,000, jointly funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and TSB with Acme contributing 30 per cent of the total.

During the initial phase of the project, Arantxa was involved in a series of research activities including reviewing Acme’s charitable purposes, mission and operations, visiting a representative range of studio providers and carrying out a literature review covering a wide range of discourses. This project involves a series of research methodologies such as data gathering and analysis, experiments and conceptual research.

Visiting Studio Providers

A key early objective is to gain a wide and detailed understanding of the studio provision sector both in London and nationally, aiming to highlight the relevance of this research to the sector as a whole. Arantxa visited Acme’s 11 buildings in London and also met other providers in the capital including ACAVA, Mother Studios, Gasworks, APT, Creekside Artists, Occupation Studios and Auto-Italia. Elsewhere in the UK, Arantxa visited Wasps Artists’ Studios in Glasgow, Platform Arts in Middlesbrough, Bar Lane Studios in York, The Art House in Wakefield and East Street Arts in Leeds. Visits to other providers will be arranged in the future.

Photography Project

Photographer Moz Bulbeck was commissioned to record a series of identical studios at a recent development of 30 newly-converted units at Acme’s existing Childers Street building, in Deptford, SE8. The initial photos are of the empty studios before occupation and further images will be taken from identical viewpoints at four-monthly intervals over the next two years. The final body of pictures will provide a unique insight into the activities developed within the studios and the transformation of the spaces by each practitioner.

Sessions With Students at Central Saint Martins

Also as part of the project Arantxa and Graham Ellard organised a series of seminars with students at Central Saint Martins. These sessions aimed to explore students’ current views on the idea of ‘the studio’, and what might be seen as its priorities, based on their experience in the School and their expectations of becoming practising professional artists.


Thirty artists have been selected to be interviewed formally in order to gain further understanding of the use of the studio in relation to different practices and practitioners. The ‘oral history’ interviews will be recorded and kept as part of Acme’s archive.

The final outcomes of the project will be a revised design brief for a 'model' Acme studio, and a review of management processes in relation to the findings of the research. The findings will be collated for internal use, and in an edited form, accompanied by contextual essays, published and publicly disseminated. A symposium will also be staged to present and discuss the project findings as they develop.

Other Corporate or Group Contributors:
RoleOther Corporate or Group Contributors
OtherDouble Agents
OtherAcme Studios
Additional Information (Publicly available):

The project has been presented, in progress, at two conferences/symposia; the annual conference of the National Federation of Artists’ Studio Providers in Birmingham (December 2010) and ‘Research Partnerships’ convened in London by Sheffield Hallam University, Royal Holloway, University of London. (February 2011).

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: the artists' studio, public sector space provision in the creative industries
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Other Affiliations > Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Research Groups > Double Agents
Date: 6 December 2010
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Technology Strategy Board, Acme Studios, London
Related Websites: http://www.doubleagents.org, http://www.acme.org
Related Websites:
Projects or Series: Research Outputs Review (April 2010 - April 2011)
Locations / Venues:
LocationFrom DateTo Date
The annual conference of the National Federation of Artists’ Studio Providers, Birmingham, UKDecember 20102011
‘Research Partnerships’ (convened in London by Sheffield Hallam University), Royal Holloway, University of LondonFebruary 20112011
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2012 11:41
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2021 13:41
Item ID: 3534
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/3534

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