We speak to recent graduate Anthony Jennison about the benefits of working from his studio in Brixton, which is run and subsidised by Artists Studio Company (ASC).
Founded in 1993, Artists Studio Company (ASC) is a registered charity that provides over 520 affordable workspaces to artists and makers across Greater London. Its core aim is to support creative practitioners and to promote the arts through exhibitions and events. It also runs educational programmes with schools, young people and communities in the areas around its studios, and provides grant funding to its tenant artists.
In 2019 ASC introduced a recent graduate scheme, offering workspaces in its Brixton, Croydon and Rotherhithe studios at subsidised rents to artists who have graduated in the last three years. There is no competitive selection process and ASC meets the costs of the scheme without external funding.
ASC’s CEO Peter Flack notes that “price is the defining factor when young artists look for studio space”. Anthony Jennison, a studio holder at ASC’s Brixton site, agrees that “as a young artist, every penny counts,” but also recognises further benefits of being in an established studio. “ASC supports young creatives through events such as open studios and networking with fellow artists in other studios. I have the chance to make contact with like-minded artists in London, who may have more experience and who I can learn from. ASC offers a community that will benefit my future career.”Since April 2019, through Cultural Enterprise Zone funding, ASC has offered eight studios in Croydon at a 40% discount to artists under-25. Finding affordable workspace after graduation is a particular challenge for emerging artists and Flack recognises the impact of high studio rents in London.
“Our charity and other affordable workspace providers in London are now paying ridiculously high rents for our leasehold buildings,” he says. “In order to remain sustainable we have had to increase studio rents to levels that are pricing many artists out of the capital. Our long-term solution is to purchase buildings at a discounted price, but it will be some years before we own enough property to make a difference. In the meantime, we can support a small number of emerging artists with financial discounts.”
ASC has recently bought two new buildings that will provide secure, long-term workspace to a further 160 artists. Last year it purchased a building in Alperton, Brent, which is now up and running with over 30 studios, including one that is offered free to a local artist for a two-year term. “This scheme will continue for the life of the building,” says Flack, “and we plan to offer the same in all of our new permanent buildings”.
Jennison is studying for an MA at the Royal College of Art. His tutor recommended ASC as being particularly good value for money for the size of the studios. For Jennison, working from ASC Brixton has been important for his artistic development.
“I specialise in sculptural installation and create large-scale, multi-sensory work for audiences to enter,” he explains. “Being able to work at an increased scale in my studio has made my practice more experimental, with more theoretical depth as I’m less concerned with material restrictions. Ideas that have been trapped inside sketchbooks for months can now become visual and tactile. With all my work in one space, I have gained a greater understanding of my own practice.”
Interview by Ellen Wilkinson
1. Anthony Jennison, Biotic Tenancy, 841x1189mm, digital print, 2018.
2. Anthony Jennison, Default, brick, audio and video projection, 2019.