‘Gentrification’ pushing creatives out of Brighton and Hove

Artists at Red Herring Studios (Photograph: Anna Chapman)
Artists at Red Herring Studios (Photograph: Anna Chapman)

Artists in Brighton and Hove are seeking a new base, as their studio is set to be demolished to make way for homes.

Red Herring Studio, one of the city’s longest-established artist cooperatives, is a creative space for 23 artists in Hove.

Artists at Red Herring Studios (Photograph: Anna Chapman)

Artists at Red Herring Studios (Photograph: Anna Chapman)

After 18 years at the at the Westerman Complex in School Road, Hove, the group will have to find a new home, as its current lease ends in June.

The artists said the ‘gentrification’ of Brighton and Hove ‘has made living and working in the city beyond reach for much of the creative community that defines its culture’.

Chris McHugh, co-founder of Red Herring in 1985 and still an active studio member, raised concerns over the loss of creative space in the city.

He said: “How do we value art and creativity in our community? How can we expect artists to produce the work that is enjoyed in galleries, private homes, schools and public spaces without affordable studios in which to make it?”

Artists said with property prices rising, and suitable industrial sites getting scarcer, it will be a challenge to find an affordable new home for this ‘well-established and vital artistic community’.

The site - which is also home to Westows indoor play centre, Cliffords car parts shop and Written Word church – has been earmarked for redevelopment.

The developer Cross Stone Securities Limited, has applied to Brighton and Hove City Council to demolish the current buildings, replacing them with 104 homes and 572 square metres of office space. Of the 104 homes, 40 per cent would be affordable. There would be 93 car parking spaces and 158 cycle spaces. The application will be decided by he city council’s planning committee.

In the meantime, Red Herring studios will be on the lookout for a new space that can accommodate ‘a diverse range of artists and makers’, within commuting distance of Brighton and Hove. Current premises stand at nearly 8,000 square feet (740 square metres), but the group said any suitable buildings – larger or smaller – will be considered.

The group was founded in 1985, and although their current tenancy has been their longest, they have moved between six different venues over the years, including Phoenix Studios in Brighton.

Current artists include painters, ceramicists, sculptors and illustrators, who have exhibited and delivered projects locally, nationally and internationally. Previous members set up Fabrica Gallery in central Brighton, and Turner Prize shortlisted artist Vong Phaophanit numbers amongst its alumni.

For more information about the studios, or to recommend a new venue, visit www.redherringstudios.org