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Acme Studios supporting art & artists since 1972
Whitechapel Gallery Exhibition
Supporting Artists: Acme's First Decade 1972 -1982
Boarded-up houses on Campbell Road, E3, awaiting repairs. Photo: Acme Studios (1974)
Boarded-up houses on Campbell Road, E3, awaiting repairs. Photo: Acme Studios (1974)

Whitechapel Gallery
Pat Matthews Gallery (Gallery 4)
7 September 2013 - 23 February 2014

Leaving the protective environment of art school has always been a huge challenge. In 1972, a group of London graduates, led by Jonathan Harvey and David Panton, took matters into their own hands.

The unpromising recession-gripped landscape of East London – of empty factories and riverside warehouses, and boarded-up houses destined for demolition – presented an unexpected route to survival: cheap, though temporary, space to work and live appeared to be in free supply. Acme Housing Association was formed as the legal mechanism to unlock this space, with short-life houses transferred by local government authorities to make use of an otherwise wasted resource.

Self-help was key, with artists finding ingenious solutions, given limited means, to create the spaces they needed from the semi-derelict properties at their disposal.

This exhibition tells the story of Acme’s first decade. Using remarkable documents and photographs from our archives, the history of Acme and the legendary Acme Gallery in Covent Garden (1976–1981) unfolds.


DISCUSSION - The Real World: Opportunity, support, survival
Thursday 24 October, 7pm to 8.30pm, Study Studios (£3)

Confronting lack of space, time and money is an issue common to most artists. Jonathan Harvey, Co-Founder of Acme Studios and guests discuss how the culture of support for artists has developed since the 1970s, and whether it is possible for art organisations today to remain genuinely artist-centred. In association with Artquest. 


GALLERY TALK - Jonathan Harvey on Acme Studios
Thursday 5 December, 6.30pm to 7.30pm, Gallery 4 (free)

The Co-founder and Chief Executive of Acme Studios discusses Acme's early development through the Gallery's current archive display.



If you had an Acme house, exhibited at The Acme Gallery, or rented a studio at Hetley Road, W12; Faroe Road, W14; Acre Lane, SW2 or Robinson Road, E2 during Acme’s first decade i.e. to November 1982 we would love to hear from you.

Please contact us on

Acme Artists Studios Limited 44 Copperfield Road, Bow, London E3 4RR
T 020 8981 6811 E W
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