Acme, supporting artists since 1972
History

History

Acme is now a permanent and self-sustaining resource for artists – from two derelict shops to 16 buildings providing 570 studios for over 650 artists.

1972

  • Acme formed by recent graduates, led by Jonathan Harvey and David Panton, to use houses due for demolition as low-cost studio/living space.
     

1973

  • Greater London Council transfers two shops in Bow, East London for 21 months. More property transferred with small grants; one year later 76 houses support 90 artists.
     

1976

  • The Acme Gallery (1976-81) opens in short-life warehouse in Covent Garden, WC2. ‘Exhibitions’ by artists including Stuart Brisley, Helen Chadwick, Shelagh Cluett, Stephen Cripps, Ron Haselden, Albert Irvin, Jock McFadyen, Kerry Trengove and Darrell Viner.
  • Former meat-processing factory leased in Acre Lane, SW2 (1976-96): conversion to 28 studios. Building initially found and negotiated by Richard Deacon and other sculptors.
  • Acme in receipt of revenue funding and studio conversion grants from Arts Council.
     

1981

  • Former brush factory in Robinson Road, E2, converted to 46 studios. Acme managing over 250 houses and three studio buildings.
     

1985

  • Former perfume factory in Carpenters Road, E15, supports 620 artists over 16 years including Simon Edmondson, Rachel Whiteread and Grayson Perry. Handed back for redevelopment in 2001.
     

1990

  • Some houses no longer required for demolition. Acme supports artists in Beck Road, E8, and elsewhere, to buy their houses at a discount.
  • Former ships’ propeller foundry in Childers Street, SE8, developed in phases to provide 120 studios by 2010.
     

1995

1997

  • National Lottery grant of £1.2 million towards conversion of Fire Station and purchase and conversion of Copperfield Road, E3. Matt’s Gallery housed on ground floor.
     

2000  

  • Purchase of third building, Orsman Road, N1, (leased since 1983). Housing stock reduces to 25 units, studios increase to 508.
     

2006

  • £2 million from Arts Council England’s lottery fund towards 10-year studio development programme.

    Fifty new-build studios open as part of development at The Galleria, SE15 in partnership with Barratt Homes.
     

2009

  • Partnerships with house builders continue: 21 studios in Leven Road, E14 with Swan Housing and, in 2010, 12 studios in Harrow Road, NW10 with Catalyst Housing Group.
     

2012

2013

  • New buildings open providing 100 permanent studios: Warton House, E15; The Glassyard, SW9 and High House Artists’ Studios, Thurrock (right).
  • ‘Supporting Artists: Acme’s First Decade 1972 -1982’, Whitechapel Gallery. Featuring original documents and photographs from Acme’s archives, as well as material contributed by artists who had houses and studios at the time, the exhibition explores the history of Acme and the legendary Acme Gallery in Covent Garden (1976–1981).


2014

 

2015

  • 'Studios for artists: concepts and concrete. A collaboration between Acme Studios and Central Saint Martins' published by Black Dog Publishing.
  • '72-82' by William Raban released, a 60-minute film drawing largely on a range of archive material from Acme Studios’ first decade.
  • Fire Station Programme 5 (2015-2020) begins. A further 12 artists join the CSM Associate Studio Programme at the Highline Building in Elephant and Castle.

 

 

2016

 

For more information see 'Acme Studios: A detailed history' in Further Reading

 

Boarded up house on Campbell Road, E3. Photo: Acme Studios (1972)

Boarded up house on Campbell Road, E3. Photo: Acme Studios (1972)

Jonathan Harvey and David Panton outside the first Acme property on Devons Road, E3. Photo: Claire Price (1973)

Jonathan Harvey and David Panton outside the first Acme property on Devons Road, E3. Photo: Claire Price (1973)

Richard Deacon in his studio at Acre Lane, SW9. Photo: John Riddy (1989)

Richard Deacon in his studio at Acre Lane, SW9. Photo: John Riddy (1989)

Anthony Whishaw in his studio at Robinson Road. Photo: Acme Studios (1981)

Anthony Whishaw in his studio at Robinson Road. Photo: Acme Studios (1981)

Grayson Perry in his studio at Carpenters Road, E14. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (1994)

Grayson Perry in his studio at Carpenters Road, E14. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (1994)

Rachel Whiteread in her studio at Carpenters Road, E14. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (1994)

Rachel Whiteread in her studio at Carpenters Road, E14. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (1994)

Residents of Beck Road, E8. Photo: Edward Woodman (1989)

Residents of Beck Road, E8. Photo: Edward Woodman (1989)

Exterior of the Fire Station, E14. Photo: Acme Studios (2000)

Exterior of the Fire Station, E14. Photo: Acme Studios (2000)

Exterior of Copperfield Road, E3 from the canal. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (1994)

Exterior of Copperfield Road, E3 from the canal. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (1994)

Exterior of the Galleria. Photo: Acme Studios (2006)

Exterior of the Galleria. Photo: Acme Studios (2006)

Further Reading

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  • Acme Studios
  • 44 Copperfield Road
  • London
  • E3 4RR
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National Housing Federation member | NFASP member | Supported using public funding by Arts Council England

Between 1996 and 2012 Acme received £3.2m of capital funding from Arts Council England which supported the creation of six permanent affordable studios in London: Copperfield Road, Fire Station, Galleria, Harrow Road, Leven Road and Matchmakers Wharf. This resulted in 186 studios and 12 work/live units in four London boroughs.