Victoria Park creatives condemn affordable landlord Acme for siding with well-off artists who 'unfairly' evicted them
PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:47 04 January 2019
Two struggling artists who were kicked out of their studio near Victoria Park have slammed the affordable art space firm that owns it for failing to support them.
Kate Kingston and Jenny Moore say they face destitution after the couple subletting the Bonner Road workspace to them told them to leave.
What’s more, the property’s owner Acme Studios – which, according to its website, leases “low-cost studio space” to “bona fide artists who are in genuine need” – ignored Kate and Jenny’s pleas for help, claiming they were never tenants in the first place.
“If we weren’t tenants, what were we?” said Clapton performance artist Jenny, who had shared with the couple since 2012. She’d assumed she was a tenant, given that neither “sharing” nor “subletting” are allowed in the terms and conditions and Acme had actually called her a “tenant” in emails.
Kate told the Gazette: “I had a solo show planned for May, which I now have to cancel.” The 34-year-old photographs east-London’s queer community and joined the studio in 2016.
She said the £75-a-month space, at a 10th of the cost of most art spaces, had helped her stay afloat but, with nowhere left to turn, she must now rejoin Acme’s long waiting list.
Jenny said Acme’s lack of support made her feel as if she had “no rights”.
Kate alleges the couple who were subletting to her had principally used the space for “storage” and were practically “ghost tenants,” which Acme expressly forbids, whereas she and Jenny depended upon the studio.
And by siding with the couple – part of the 1990s “Young British Artists” movement best known for trisecting sharks in gutted east-London warehouses – she said Acme had shut the “bona fide artists” it supposedly stands for out in the cold.
An Acme spokesman told the Gazette the organisation was “unaware” of claims that the couple had misused the studio space, adding that Kate and Jenny had never faced “eviction” because they were never tenants.
Asked why they had repeatedly referred to the artists as “tenant” in emails and had sent them a full set of the tenants-only terms and conditions, Acme offered no comment.
The Gazette has also discovered that another tenant has since occupied the space, though it’s not clear why, given the couple’s hopes to “reclaim” it.