Alice Fernbank, 27 January 2014

I called this session to explore possibilities for making creative living spaces. I was

part of a vibrant squatting community in Holland in the mid 90's. We occupied a

number of disused buildings, one of which was a theatre. Within these spaces artistic

communities evolved and the possibilities were endless. Unfortunately the buildings

were not endless, and were lost to fires and evictions.

My vision now is to create a more sustainable living, working, creative home, from

which artists can work, share, and rehearse their projects. I wanted to hear the stories

of artists who have some experience of making a work space from a home, and

sharing it with the wider creative community.

People shared their experiences, they shared my vision and offered some useful

avenues for exploration.

'Start with what you've got', was the advice from one visitor, who had used her

suburban home as a space for creative community workshops, a cafe, and she even

mentioned setting up and ice rink in the house that stretched out into the garden.

The Camelot property guardian scheme was mentioned. A kind of anti-squat system,

whereby empty buildings are occupied for low rents.

There was plenty of advice from Bristol residents, where there seems to be a strong

community of ex-squatters who can offer advice about occupying empty properties for

minimal rents.

These spaces can be used as homes or rented as rehearsal studios.

Some tips that were offered:

Find out who owns empty buildings, at the land registry or by talking to the

neighbouring community.

Network rail are apparently the largest renters of commercial property in the country.

A number of spaces/groups for further research were mentioned:

-Group Residence

-Make Space Studios

-Studio 180 in Lambeth

-The Situation Room

-Stoke Newington International Airport (Closed)

-Lewisham Art House Residencies

-Live Work Studios Brockley

-55 Mill Street

Those who shared the vision talked about the reason we feel it necessary. How being

in a space with other artists, feeds ones own practice. How the collective can move

creative work forward at a more expansive pace. We discussed the presence of a

creative vibration in the home as being a vital support to an artist and how a collective

of artists can maintain that as a vibration from which to expand further into artistry,

rather than simply being momentary connection which one slips in and out of.

If you attended the session, please add to the report. I'm sure there are details I've


Thank you all for your generous sharing.


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