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The end of Soho artist studios

August 16, 2014
artists studios dean street

The artist studios building in Dean Street, London

ENGLISH: In 2010 an organization that provides studio space for artists offered me the great opportunity to rent a studio in Soho, a very central and fashionable area in London. Beside our building had to be built one of the underground rail stations of Crossrail, the biggest construction project in Europe, which will link the west with the East, passing through the centre through a series of newly excavated underground tunnels. From my window, just at the end of the worksite, I can see Oxford Street, perhaps the most famous commercial and turistic street of London. The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square are just 15 minutes walking distance towards South, and so it is the British Museum, towards East. Also in the East, but just 10 min. away, is Covent Garden, and within the same distance are Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, towards West, and these are just a few of the many nearby touristic attractions. The same street where my building is, Dean Street, is full of history. For example, this street was regularly frequented by writer Charles Dickens, during his early career as an actor in the Royalty Theatre. In Dean Street also lived his childhood years Karl Marx, in very poor conditions, and his close collaborator Friedrick Engels. In Dean Street there was also a famous private club for artists and bohemians, The Colony Room, frequented by Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and, more recently, by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. But everything has an end, and the most central and sought after building for artist studios in London has been sold to a new company, owned by Crossrail. After receiving a very recent warning about the end of our lease, before 31st August all artists have to hand back the keys, and many of us are still looking for a new studio. For sure there won’t be any more chances to be so close to the centre, nowadays artists studios tend to be in old factories in the outskirts, but my 4 years in Soho have been a privilege that I will always treasure among my memories as an artist.

 

the Crossrail worksite seen from my window in 2010. Beyond the worksite is Oxford Street.

the Crossrail worksite seen from my window in 2010. Beyond the worksite is Oxford Street.

ESPAÑOL: En 2010 una organización que gestiona edificios con estudios de artistas en Londres me ofreció la gran oportunidad de alquilar un estudio en Soho, un área muy central y a la moda de Londres. Nuestro edificio estaba a lado de una zona de obras que formaba parte del proyecto de construcción más grande de Europa, la nueva línea de trenes Crossrail,

    The Crossrail worksite from my window in 2014

The Crossrail worksite from my window in 2014

que unirá el sur-oeste al nor-este de Londres, pasando por el centro a través de nuevos túneles subterráneos. Desde mi ventana, más allá de la zona de obras, se ve Oxford Street, la famosa calle comercial más turística de Londres. La National Gallery y Trafalgar Square están a 15 minutos andando hacia sur, la misma distancia que el British Museum, hacia el este mientras Covent Garden, siempre al este, está a tan solo 10 minutos, igual que Piccadilly Circus, al oeste, entre otros lugares turísticos famosos. La misma calle donde está mi edificio de artistas, Dean Street, tiene muchísima historia. En esta calle estaba el teatro Royalty Theatre, que frecuentaba mucho el escritor Charles Dickens, en sus comienzos como actor. En Dean Street también vivió su infancia Karl Marx, en condiciones muy pobres, y su colaborador Friedrick Engels. En Dean Street también surgió un club privado de artistas y bohemios, The Colony Room, frecuentado por Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon y, más recientemente, Damien Hirst y Tracy Emin. Pero todo tiene un final, y el edificio de artistas más central y buscado de Londres ha sido vendido hace poco a una nueva empresa, propiedad de Crossrail. Tras  recibir un aviso muy reciente, el día 31 de agosto todos los artistas tienen que entregar las llaves, y muchos no hemos encontrado todavía un nuevo estudio. Seguramente no habrá más posibilidades de encontrar un espacio tan cerca del centro, hoy los estudios de artistas tienden a estar en viejas fábricas abandonadas en la periferia de la ciudad, sin embargo, mis 4 años en el Soho han sido un privilegio enorme que quedará siempre entre mis recuerdos más entrañables como artista.

"L'Illustratrice" (The illustrator), oil on linen, 162x114cm

“The illustrator”, 162x114cm, painted from life in 2012, with the worksite visible behind the window.

_MG_1938

The Crossrail worksite through my windows

freudandbacon

Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud in Dean Street.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pamela Sienna permalink
    August 16, 2014 19:10

    It is sad that artists must always be pushed to the fringes. You had the opportunity to chronicle the historic site of your studio in your painting and blog posts. I thank you for that. Please continue to share the search for new studio space.

  2. August 16, 2014 21:16

    Thanks Pamela, that would be very interesting, I will try to share the sharable, but until now it has been a very discouraging search, I will talk about it soon (hopefully when I have found a decent one)!

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