Campaign launched to save artistic community in London's Hackney Wick, home to Chapman Brothers and Gavin Turk
One of the largest artistic communities in Londonand possibly Europeis under threat from plans to demolish a warehouse that is home to more than 100 artists and small businesses. The residents of Vittoria Wharf, formerly a tyre factory and series of car storage units, have launched a petition to save the arts hub in Hackney Wick, northeast London, which is due to be bulldozed to make way for a pedestrian bridge across a canal. Artists are facing eviction on 5 September.
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) owns half of Vittoria Wharf and the companys plans include building many unaffordable homes on the adjacent side of the canal, according to the petition, which has so far attracted more than 2,500 supporters. Campaigners say that new developments will change the soul of Hackney Wick and displace many of the people that work and create here.
For many years Hackney Wick had the highest concentration of artists per square foot in the whole of Europethe Chapman Brothers, Gavin Turk and Conrad Shawcross are all locals. But rising rents and rapid redevelopment across the UK capital is now forcing artists to leave. London is due to lose 3,500 artist studios in the next five yearsa third of the capitals creative workspaces.
According to the artists of Vittoria Wharf, the warehouse has been a safe haven where people can enjoy the relatively small privilege of being able to get on with their work and collaborate with their neighbours without the fear of having to be moved on. That is until now.
LLDC have told campaigners that the proposed bridge will benefit the community, but artists argue that they are the community. Our response is that you will be deleting us in the process, they say.
A spokesman for LLDC says: This new bridge will significantly improve connections around Fish Island, Hackney Wick and into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, helping the area properly benefit from the regeneration investment being made there. This bridge received planning consent in 2012 and we have undertaken extensive consultation on these proposals. We are keen to work with local people to ensure the bridge benefits everyone.