Lewisham art studio: “dead space now very much alive”

Pics: Harts Lane Studios

A derelict garage in New Cross Gate has been transformed into one of the more unlikely galleries to exhibit work from the areas’ flourishing art scene.

The studio on Harts Lane was established after the council-owned garage was occupied by People Before Profit- a campaign group for affordable housing in Lewisham. The group occupies empty buildings, converting them into homes for families on council house waiting lists. Deemed unsuitable for housing, the group offered the space to local creatives Cristiana Bottigella, Sigrun Sverrisdottir and Tisna Westerhof who have transformed the space into a studio and gallery for local artists.

‘Harts Lane Studios’ celebrated the opening with its ‘Heaven Baby’ exhibition in April 2012, featuring installations, murals and live music playing on top of the roof.

Speaking to ELL, Sigrun and Tisna explained how the trios numerous exhibitions offer both a platform for local artists and low cost space for works by students at nearby Goldsmiths, St Martins and Kingston:

“The art market is inaccessible for many art students. This space provides a platform for students in making the first steps in their art careers after university.

“We believe in art for social change. We wanted a space for New Cross Gate to help connect the local community, and provide a hub for artistic groups in the area.

“What was a dead space is now very much alive. Our aim was to have a space for vibrant artistic exploration.”

The studio is also looking to assist art curators in sparking their careers – Cristiana said: “we want to invite 12 young curators to curate a show each month of the year in the studio”. Future plans include offering the space to international artists and exhibiting Harts Lane artwork overseas.

The most recent exhibition, ‘Between Art and Reality’ curated by architect Sigrun, explored our engagement with architectural environments- collages, drawings, models and poetry all gave an insight into the mind of the designer.

Many (little) hands make light work

Many (little) hands make light work

Harts Lane Studios recently enlisted the help of local schoolchildren to make a patchwork quilt celebrating “a diverse and united New Cross Gate” – the work is being shown at various venues around New Cross until the end of September.

After initial aims to reclaim the space, the council have now recognised the studio as an asset to the community. Tisna, Cristiana and Sigrun are now applying for a rental agreement with the council, if this is granted they plan to insulate the building and repair the roof – as the studio still can’t be used in winter weather! However they still wish to keep the exterior of the building “very raw” and maintain the studio’s individual charm that makes it a truly unique space.

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