Acme Studios, supporting art and artists since 1972

Fire Station Work/Live Programme

Next Programme (2020-2025): Applications are now closed.

Information

Acme's work/live programme at the Fire Station is one of the most directly supportive schemes for artists in the United Kingdom, providing combined studio and living space at low rents, as well as a half rent residency for a deaf or disabled artist.

The former fire station was bought in 1997 and converted with funding from the National Lottery and other sources. Restored and developed to provide 12 purpose-designed work/live and six non-residential studios, these units were developed in response to the lack of affordable space for artists to work and live in, and in particular, to the lack of studios properly accessible to disabled artists.

The fixed-term residency scheme is intended to allow artists more time to concentrate on the development of their work and professional careers, and less time working to survive.

 

Programme 5 (2015-2020)

165 applications from across the UK were submitted and the final selection made, from a shortlist of 25, by the panel consisting of Julia Lancaster (Acme Studios’ Residency and Projects Manager), Erika Tan and Ben Cove who are both practicing artists and former Fire Station tenants.


Aaron Angell

Aaron Angell's work is concerned with hobbyist cultures, non-canonical history, and marginal methods of image making. He is also the founder and director of Troy Town Art Pottery, a radical and psychedelic ceramic workshop for artists in London.

Upcoming solo presentations include include Studio Voltaire, Markus Lüttgen Cologne and Kelvingrove Museum as part of Glasgow International. Upcoming group exhibitions include British Art Show 8 and Tate St. Ives.
www.aaronangell.com


Holly Antrum
In her films Holly Antrum continues to be interested in how formalism, reverie, words and reality around the human subject affect one another and especially in the attention to edges, sounds, surfaces and camerawork. Film portraiture, place, archive, memory and translation are underlying interests, often seeking to parallel, or ‘humour’ the medium of transferred film – she explored many of these ideas in her last film, Catalogue (2012-14). In the four years since she graduated Holly's interests are now the first concern, whilst print-based thinking sits underneath: there is a gentle presence of layering, image templates and colour-picks, breaking the rules of alignments. Holly took up filmmaking and printmaking a few years after she left her BA after working with drawing and animation. The use of 16mm as a documentary and photographic tool gradually became informed by observations occurring from the print and film processes she experimented with and combined during my MA as well as earlier projects.

The Fire Station residency will allow her to work on further-developing the relationship between the films, and more tentative parts of her work: ideas for new films supported by a body of work in other media that she intend to feed the narratives she takes on in future.
hollyantrum.com

Leah Capaldi
Leah Capaldi holds an MA in Sculpture, Royal College of Art (2010).

“It’s such a ‘safe’ space, the gallery space. Within a gallery, we can see the most horrendous images or we can be part of anything, and it’s diluted because of the confines of the art cathedral. If I can get people to experience the rupture or interruption of their viewing, I can shake them out of that. If they’re going around in a bit of a daydream, I wonder if there’s something I can do to prod them and draw them back, to realise that there’s something else happening that they weren’t aware of. There’s also a very accepted way of viewing work; why should there be?” Leah Capaldi in Interview with Ellen Mara de Wachter.
www.leahcapaldi.com

Lucy Clout
Lucy Clout was born in Leeds. Her work is interested in the physical experience of language, embodiment and gender: recently this has involved isolating the screams from online spot squeezing videos and lip reading an extra in the background of a 20 year old soap opera. Her practice includes the production of objects, sound work, text and video. In 2009 she participated in the LUX AAP and in 2014 she was awarded the Jerwood/Film and Video Umbrella award. Recent solo shows include Jerwood Space, London/CCA, Glasgow,‘Shrugging Offing’, Limoncello, London, and ‘manual manual non manual’, International Project Space, Birmingham. Recent screenings have included Whitechapel Gallery, Tramway, Glasgow, CCA San Francisco and Moderna Museet, Malmö.

Samantha Donnelly

Samantha Donnelly has shown work in group and solo shows in the UK including Ceri Hand Gallery, 176, Contemporary Arts Society, The Cornerhouse, Vitrine and the Harris Museum.  She has had work presented in solo and group booths at numerous international art fairs including New York, Basel, London and Rotterdam. She has participated in international residencies including Triangle Workshop in New York and programmes in Rotterdam, Berlin, Helsinki, Poland, Ireland and Italy. Her work is concerned in how the media and images of the self, influence the narrative(s) we become or adopt, particularly in response to the democratisation and repetition of imagery that creeps into everyday life. She will explore these tensions further through film / video and performance whilst at the Fire Station.
www.cerihand.co.uk/samathadonnelly

Alex Frost
Alex Frost was originally born and grew up in London although he spent the past few years living in Glasgow.

Alex recently completed a residency at Flattime House in Peckham where he will have a solo exhibition in June 2015. He works between gallery and non-gallery contexts and recently developed a work that spanned the site of the artist residency at Cove Park (a commission for Generation 2014). He has had solo exhibitions at Dundee Contemporary Arts, Milton Keynes Gallery, Spike Island, Transmission Gallery, Wewerka Pavilion, Münster and Glasgow Print Studio."
www.alexfrost.com
 
Seth Guy
Seth Guy appropriates, reconfigures and juxtaposes materials to create playful works which propose a discourse into the cross-modal correspondence of auditory and visual perception at the intersections of language, memory and imagination. Working both directly with sound and visual media including performance, installation, drawing and video, Seth’s work also examines the aural from a conceptual and quasi-sonorous perspective exploring listening events in written text and silent media.

Active since 1999, he has collaborated with a variety of artists from different disciplines, published texts and audio, and contributed works – both loud and quiet – for exhibition, radio, theatre and performance. Seth is keen to use his time at the Fire Station in developing ambitious new works in which the artist and material may mix: visualising and embodying aural events present in the urban environment.
www.sethguy.co.uk

Richard Healy
Richard Healy's work explores the roles of function and materiality through sculpture, installation and video. Often embodied through simulations of design his work frequentlydeploys digital landscapes as a means to examine notions of narrative space.

A graduate of the Royal College of Art he has exhibited widely in the UK and throughout Europe. Selected exhibitions include Outside the Red House, Marian Cramer, Amsterdam (2015); The Best Tailor in Town, Hunt Kastner, Prague (2015); On the Devolution of Culture, Rob Tufnell, London (2014); Last Seen Entering the Biltmore, South London Gallery, London (2014); I love you Me either, Project Native Informant, London (2014).
www.richard-healy.co.uk

Rizwan Mirza
Rizwan Mirza's practice is informed by the convergence of personal/cultural references with contemporary (and historical) objects and ideas. It is concerned with duality, language and perception and re-imagines how something could exist in another form. Rizwan works with installation, sculpture, film, photography and books. He hopes to use the residency period as an opportunity to experiment further with archives, sound and technology.
www.rizwanmirza.com
 
Geraldine Swayne
Geraldine Swayne is a painter who works mainly in miniature in enamel on metal. The pictures' initial charm belie their unsettling and affectionate study of human frailty, hubris and vanity. Since 1999, she has made numerous experimental films including the world’s first super-8 to Imax film 'East End', produced by Cathy Shaw, and narrated by Miriam Margolyes with music by Nick Cave. After leaving the film industry in 2004 she worked as an assistant for Jake and Dinos Chapman rebuilding 'Hell'. Although better known as a painter in 2005 she joined experimental rock group …bender and in the following year the seminal 'Krautrock" group Faust, with whom she has recorded two albums and toured widely, making musical improvisations and live paintings at venues such as the Wrexner Centre for the Arts in Ohio, Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art and CalArts.
geraldineswayne.org

Michelle Ussher

Michelle Ussher's practice includes painting, sculpture, installation and text. It considers how images and forms narrate the personal and social space in which they exist in the present, and their anachronistic survival through history. Frequently alluding to a state of vulnerability and fallibility, the work appears precarious and in decay, which stems from thinking about the inherent psychological weathering connected to the social environment; how the constructs that shape our social environs, shape us personally.
www.michelleussher.comwww.michelleussher.com/

Lucy Woodhouse
Lucy Woodhouse works across a variety of media including online technologies, live broadcast, photography, digital media, sculpture and performance.

Interested in the modes through which social experience can be presented transformed and consumed her work is both inspired and created through exploring ideas around locality, consumerism and connectivity.

She has created performances for Wysing Art Centre, Cambridge and Matt’s Gallery, London. She has had solo presentations of work at French Riviera and the Zabludowicz Collection, London.
lucywoodhouse.info

 

Programme 4 (2010-2015)

Over 100 artists applied for Programme 4. A selection panel of artist and educator Cath Hawes, artist Gayle Chong Kwan and Acme's Chief Executive Jonathan Harvey selected 12 artists: Briony Anderson, Gemma Anderson, Kate Atkin, Jonathan Baldock, George Charman, Melanie Clifford, Sue Corke, Robin Footitt, Haroon Mirza, Matthew Noel-Tod, David Osbaldeston, Emma Smith.

During the programme artists, Gemma Anderson, Kate Atkin, Haroon Mirza and Matthew Noel-Tod, were able to realise opportunities elsewhere and their places on the residency scheme were taken up by Sara MacKillop, Dan Coopey, Michelle Ussher and Geraldine Swayne.

 

Programme 3 (2005 - 2010)

Programme 3 offered nine five-year work/live residencies at low rents to Kate Broad, Lisa Cheung, Maggie Hills, Robert Holyhead, Lizzie Hughes, Riccardo Iacono, Samson Kambalu, Damien Roach and Jack Southern.

Two bursaries of £5,000 per year plus free work/live space for two and a half years were awarded to Ming Wong and Ben Cove, whose bursary was open to disabled artists.

Ming Wong completed his residency in September 2007 and moved to Berlin to take up a one-year Kunstlerhaus Bethanien residency. This provided an opportunity for Acme to offer a shorter residency, again through open submission, from May 2008 to the end of the current programme in February 2010. The new residency was awarded to Briony Anderson who works across a range of media.
 

Programme 2 (2001 - 2005)

Programme 2, which began in April 2001, awarded four year work/live residencies to: John Askew, Sonia Baka, Stephen Conning, Stevie Deas, Elizabeth LeMoine, Gordon McKenna, Pat Naldi, Hayley Newman, Stuart Parkinson, Tim Sanderson, Erika Tan and Aaron Williamson. Gordon McKenna was awarded a bursary for a disabled artist.

During Programme 2, four artists were able to realise opportunities elsewhere and their places on the residency scheme were taken up by Paul Harrison, Laurence Harvey, Kevin Heavey and Jack Southern.
 

Programme 1 (1997 - 2001)

In 1997, 12 artists were selected from a national submission to take up the first three year residencies: Edward Allington, Helena Ben-Zenou, Gillian Blease, Paul Burwell, Martin Creed, Permindar Kaur, Kypros Kyprianou, Marty St. James, Lindsay Seers, Virgil Tracy, Barbara Tyrrell and Joanna Woodward. Noel Paine took up the final year of Virgil Tracy's residency. Three bursaries, including one for a disabled  artist, were awarded to Paul Burwell, Barbara Tyrrell and Joanna Woodward.
 

The Fire Station Project: History

In December 1997, The Fire Station Project opened in a former London County Council Fire Brigade Station in London's East End. It was the product of many years of planning by Acme to create the first permanent, fully accessible, low-cost, combined working and living spaces for professional fine artists in the UK. Twelve artists, selected from a national submission, moved into the building and so began the first three year residency programme.

Acme's principal role is to support artists and their career development by providing studio space at low cost to maximise the time they can devote to their work. The programme at the Fire Station extends this support by providing studios which include living space at low rents, given that there are many artists in London who cannot afford working space in addition to somewhere to live.

The work/live programme provides breathing space, allowing artists to concentrate on the development of their work by greatly reducing or removing other practical and economic pressures.

A central element of the project is to ensure that this fundamental and practical form of support is accessible to disabled and non-disabled artists. The building has been converted so that it is fully accessible to wheelchairs users and we are committed to making further adaptations to support artists with a wide range of access requirements.

Each programme has offered at least one bursary assisted place to a disabled artist. Our commitment to access continues to develop as an important and integral feature of the Fire Station's support for artists in future years.

The building, originally purchased by Acme in 1996, was located is an 'employment zone'. This meant that the local authority, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, wanted to encourage employment use and did not want to see the building being used solely for residential purposes. Acme's proposal to develop work/live space, with the studio at the heart of each of the units and the living space incidental to it, achieved planning consent because we could guarantee that the use of the building as genuine workspace would be maintained. This is in contrast to many, so-called live/work projects which often drift into purely residential use.

The original 12 firemen's flats on the upper four storeys of the Fire Station have been converted to 12 work/live units - simple, open, self-contained spaces (averaging 550f² / 51m²) including ancillary kitchens and bathrooms. The ground floor has been converted to six large non-residential studio spaces let to artists registered on Acme's studio list. The building proved to be ideally suited to its new purpose; very few structural alterations were necessary and the new lift was accommodated within one of the original practice towers at the rear of the building.

The Fire Station project was supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England, The Foundation for Sport and the Arts, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Zuger Kulturstiftung Landis Gyr, The Esmée Fairbairn Charitable Trust, London Arts Board and the Arts Council of England.

As part of our lottery project we invited Station House Opera to create a new large scale performance, Snakes and Ladders, which used the whole rear elevation of the building as a four-storey stage set. Performed over six evenings, the first performance followed the formal opening of the Fire Station and celebrated Acme's first 25 years.

In addition, we commissioned William Raban to make a half-hour film, Firestation, which focussed on the history of the building and its transformation to artists' studios. Artist John Riddy was also invited to make a photographic record of this process of transformation.

The rear of the Fire Station, E14 with artists on Programme 4 (2010-2015). Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2014)

The rear of the Fire Station, E14 with artists on Programme 4 (2010-2015). Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2014)

Aaron Angell, Bill Turnbull's mobile stabile in barium blue, 2014, glazed stoneware, 45 x 45 x 30 cm

Aaron Angell, Bill Turnbull's mobile stabile in barium blue, 2014, glazed stoneware, 45 x 45 x 30 cm

Holly Antrum, still from 'Catalogue', 2012-14

Holly Antrum, still from 'Catalogue', 2012-14

Leah Capaldi, Hung, 2014, Serpentine Gallery

Leah Capaldi, Hung, 2014, Serpentine Gallery

Lucy Clout, still from The Extra's Ever Moving Lips, 2014

Lucy Clout, still from The Extra's Ever Moving Lips, 2014

Samantha Donnelly, Different Origin, 2014, mixed media and ceramic

Samantha Donnelly, Different Origin, 2014, mixed media and ceramic

Alex Frost, New Ruins, 2013, sand and water, The Walled Garden, Glasgow

Alex Frost, New Ruins, 2013, sand and water, The Walled Garden, Glasgow

Seth Guy, Seeing Ear, 2013

Seth Guy, Seeing Ear, 2013

Richard Healy, still taken from The Pines, 2014, HD video (dur. 5mins)

Richard Healy, still taken from The Pines, 2014, HD video (dur. 5mins)

Rizwan Mirza, One hundred less one, 2013, wooden pallets, LED lights, 4.5m x 4.5m x 4.5m.

Rizwan Mirza, One hundred less one, 2013, wooden pallets, LED lights, 4.5m x 4.5m x 4.5m.

Geraldine Swayne, They Found Each Other1 Enamel on aluminium aprox 4

Geraldine Swayne, They Found Each Other1 Enamel on aluminium aprox 4

Michelle Ussher, 'Yellow Eyes Burn & Return', TarraWarra Museum, photo credit Andrew Curtis.

Michelle Ussher, 'Yellow Eyes Burn & Return', TarraWarra Museum, photo credit Andrew Curtis.

Lucy Woodhouse, Espéces d'espaces, 2011, multimedia installation (detail)

Lucy Woodhouse, Espéces d'espaces, 2011, multimedia installation (detail)

Jonathan Baldock in his Work/Live unit at the Fire Station, Programme 4 (2010-2015). Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2014)

Jonathan Baldock in his Work/Live unit at the Fire Station, Programme 4 (2010-2015). Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2014)

Lisa Cheung in her Work/Live unit at the Fire Station, Programme 3 (2005 - 2010). Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2006)

Lisa Cheung in her Work/Live unit at the Fire Station, Programme 3 (2005 - 2010). Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2006)

Erika Tan in her Work/Live unit at the Fire Station, Programme 2 (2001 - 2005). Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2004)

Erika Tan in her Work/Live unit at the Fire Station, Programme 2 (2001 - 2005). Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2004)

Permindar Kaur in her Work/Live unit at the Fire Station, Programme 1 (1997 - 2001). Photo:Hugo Glendinning (1999)

Permindar Kaur in her Work/Live unit at the Fire Station, Programme 1 (1997 - 2001). Photo:Hugo Glendinning (1999)

Snakes & Ladders - a performance by Station House Opera, to celebrate the opening of the Fire Station and Acme's 25 years in operation (May 1998). Photo: Bob Van Dantzig (1998)

Snakes & Ladders - a performance by Station House Opera, to celebrate the opening of the Fire Station and Acme's 25 years in operation (May 1998). Photo: Bob Van Dantzig (1998)

Ground floor of the Fire Station before conversion. Photo: John Riddy (1996/7)

Ground floor of the Fire Station before conversion. Photo: John Riddy (1996/7)

The Fire Station - view of back of building - during conversion. Photo: John Riddy (1997)

The Fire Station - view of back of building - during conversion. Photo: John Riddy (1997)

External Links

Further Reading

Multimedia

Interview with artist Lindsay Seers, Fire Station Programme 1 (1997-2001) - January 2010 (32 min)

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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.