Richard Barr's studio/house in Old Ford Road. Photo: David Panton (1978)
On 9 November 1972, a group of seven recent graduates, led by Jonathan Harvey and David Panton, registered as ‘Acme Housing Association’ with the sole aim of providing artists with much-needed cheap studio and living accommodation. From the early pioneering years of using short-life houses to create a vital resource for artists in the geographical heart of East London, Acme has grown to become the leading charitable property agency for artists in the UK, with a permanent portfolio of high-quality studio and work/live buildings.
During the anniversary year (from November 2012) there will be a series of events and activities, including the opening of 100 new studios in three further buildings, new residencies and awards, a film and website artist commissions. The year will culminate in an archive display of material from Acme’s first decade (1972-1982) in association with the Whitechapel Gallery. Acme is inviting anyone who had an Acme house, exhibited at The Acme Gallery, or rented a studio at Acre Lane, SW2 or Robinson Road, E2 during Acme’s first decade to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be very good to hear from you and we would welcome any material from that time which would help expand the depth and richness of our existing archive.
Acme’s relationship with artists is founded on the principle of arms-length support that trusts artists to make the best of our investment in their creative risk-taking. Over the past 40 years, the provision of affordable space has not only enabled artists to pursue their practice, but for many Acme’s support has acted as a springboard to achieving international recognition.
We are grateful to all those who have supported us in our achievements and look forward to continued success, supporting artists, in the future.
‘So much has been achieved for artists because Acme really understands how we work and what we need – which is very special.’
Zarina Bhimji, former Acme studio holder
Yukako Shibata in her studio at Harrow Road. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2012)