A former supermarket space in Catford will be loaned out to creatives for three months free of charge.
The project is run by Hypha Studios, a charity that aims to remove financial barriers to creativity and contribute to the local community by matching artists and other creative people with available space like free studios and project rooms.
Hypha Studios was founded by Camilla Cole, a contemporary art curator with over ten years of experience. The young charity, which started work in April this year and only gained charitable status in June, already has over 20 projects listed on its website.
“Aside from the very rare instances, from I could see, everyone that could afford a gallery in London was either very well connected or had a very affluent background,” said Cole.
But at the same time, Cole realised that some creatives had secured spaces that they would not usually be able to rent. She initially negotiated with landlords as a solo curator, but when that didn’t work out, she decided to set up Hypha.
“I did a year of curating at the Goldsmiths, and the talent was amazing, but when you see 30 curators a year being churned through the uni system, and there are x amount of universities doing the same and only a few curating jobs globally, you suddenly realise there is a whole resting army of incredible programmers, artists and musicians that could do so much with the dead space. ”
Hypha’s spaces have been used for a wide range of purposes in the past, from VR technology and photography exhibitions and workshops to sustainable fashion sales and theatre, with Camden Passage and Chingford Mount matching in London.
Moreover, on earlier occasions, curators such as Gary Topp (Executive Director of the Arnolfini) and Catherine Wood (Senior Curator of Tate Modern) have also participated in the selection process, and an external curator will also be involved this time. “We have a couple of people in mind to be our guest judges, but we have not announced this as yet. It is a vital part of our process – we ask those who know the local community and the arts organisations on the ground,” she said.
Initially occupied by Peacocks and Savers, the 6,000 square feet property demonstrates the effectiveness of projects such as this by addressing the growing problem of empty space in urban areas. The landlord of the Islington property, who has been involved in previous Hypha projects, said:” It was a win win situation for us, we were able to keep the lights on in the unit, even during the height of the pandemic and the brilliant public programme created by the artist brought a new audience to the area.”
In the UK, tensions over the lockdown of Omicron shares are growing by the day, but Cole is calm in the face of this. ” We actually started in a lockdown, and with the smaller units with just one artist, our model was pandemic proof, also for passersby it was great to see the artists in action from the street.”
For this time, students can apply if they can present a professional portfolio. The deadline for applications is 19 January next year, and the public programme can start from 11 February to a future unannounced date.