Creative Land Trust Partnership with Cell Studios

Cell Studios returns to its former site in Hackney Wick

"Cell Studios is partnering with the Creative Land Trust in their landmark first acquisition. At a time when artists feel their contribution to community is threatened through lack of workspace availability and affordability, it is heartening to see that tide being turned by the Creative Land Trust, and Cell is fully committed to playing our part in that positive change"

The new studios at 80-88 Wallis Road will be considerably more affordable than in the former factory building on the site, but also built for purpose, fully accessible, better provisioned and with capped and controlled rents. All these studios will have high speed wifi internet connection, wheelchair access and will be a 1 minute walk from the new Hackney Wick overground station.

images: Top the areas new redevelopment with details of new ground floor site and its location, Hackney Wicks land mark station and below some images of the former factory building as Cell Stdios 2006-2017 and historical photographs of Spegelstein Works Factory.

This landmark agreement secures affordable workspace for artists in perpetuity, and will be operated by Cell Studios as well as other organisations with a similar ethos.

 

History

Cell Studios has it’s own legacy of artists workspace and cultural investment in the former factory buildings on this location, illustrating the relevance and importance of returning permanent affordable artists studios back to the neighbourhood in order to galvanise a secure future for displaced artists from the Hackney Wick community. Cell initially established sixteen studios at 80-88 Wallis Road in 2004 when the Stone Brothers, owners of Daro Factors, relocated some of their manufacturing productions to the Far East, freeing up a part of their factory. A further 15,000 sq.ft. was released to Cell Studios in 2006, and in conjunction with the site's launch Cell organised an off-site exhibition in the raw shell of the building, prior to completion and artists occuping them. The exhibition title Slider, a term for an avalanche, was a metaphor for the impending cataclysmic change to the landscape of Hackney Wick as the Olympics and re-development loomed in the exact location that hundreds of artists had been working for two decades. The exhibition press release from 2006 included the line "The building, now on the border of an area earmarked for radical development for the London 2012 Olympics, is now a direct hit for encroaching development and a reminder of the inevitable transcience and fragility of artists’ studio provision in the 10 years to come".

images:  left: Slider Poster, 2006.  right: details from the Slider exhibition. top: Peter Liversidge. below:Saron Hughes

A total of 200 artists worked in Cell's building between 2006- 2017, with an alumni that includes:

Anj Smith, Aaron Williamson, Susanne Deecan, Gerard Hemsworth, Pablo Jones-Soler, Eddie Peake, Millie Thompson, Cedric Christie, Tom Ormond, Michael Sandle, Jemima Stelhi and many more.

Cell continued to expand within the site and in 2014 commenced dialogue with London Legacy Development  Corporation's  regeneration department, the sites new owners and their architects to focus on design options for artists workspace in the new incarnation of the site, post development. For a short period from 2016 Cell occupied the entire 60,000 sq ft site, offering some large open sections as short term hire for production and other short term projects; this element was called Spegelstein Works, which was the name of the factory's founder, who also happened to be the grandfather of the Buildings' landlord, Stone Brothers Ltd. In 2017 the entire building was closed for redevelopment, with the regretable loss of 40,000 sq ft of affordable artists workspace. Which brings us full circle to 2021 and the acquisition of 40,000 sq ft of affordable workspace, protected within the planning consent terms for the development, by the Creative Land Trust.