Space: I Site
In 1968 the artists Bridget Riley and Peter Sedgley, in search of suitable studio spaces for themselves, seized an opportunity to occupy the ‘Ivory Warehouse’ (known as the ‘I’ Site) in St Katharine Dock, near Tower Bridge, E1. (St Katharine Dock had then been taken over from The Port of London Authority by the Greater London Council.)
In need of support, Riley and Sedgely invited a number of enthusiastic people from diverse backgrounds to create a body of Trustees who all had an active interest in the arts: Tony West, Professor of Law at the University of Reading’s Faculty of Urban & Regional Studies; Irene Worth, an actress, ‘passionately’ interested in the arts; Maurice de Sausmarez, Principal of the Byam Shaw School of Art and Peter Townsend, editor of Studio International. After some initial investigations at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Professor West had deduced that no provision had been made for artists' studios in London describing this as a paradox: ‘...London is, in a way, the centre of the art world but the artists just cannot find a space to work. We want artists, we need them but, they are left to find their own solution...
The enthusiastic group formed ‘Space Provision, Artistic, Cultural and Educational Ltd., S.P.A.C.E. Ltd'. (abbreviated to S.P.A.C.E.) which was non-profit making. It successfully negotiated a two year lease at low rental for the ‘I’ Site from the GLC.
A friend and supporter of the project, Sir Henry Moore, recalls visiting the site with Riley to assess its suitability as a conducive space for artists to work in: 'The building I was taken into had been derelict since the last war. It had a remarkably, romantic feeling about it.’ Archer suggests that '...the range of this support indicates that the venture was, from the very first, identified as a good thing not only within the narrow confines of the art world, but also for the cultural and economic well-being of the community at large'.
from: 'Artists in East London'
online available at: www.acme.org.uk/download.php?pdf=149
(accessed September 2013)
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St Katharine Docks, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, were one of the commercial docks serving London, on the north side of the river Thames just east (downstream) of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. They were part of the Port of London, in the area now known as the Docklands, and are now a popular housing and leisure complex.
St Katharine Docks took their name from the former hospital of St Katharine's by the Tower, built in the 12th century, which stood on the site. An intensely built-up 23 acre (9.5 hectares) site was earmarked for redevelopment by an Act of Parliament in 1825, with construction commencing in May 1827. Some 1250 houses were demolished, together with the medieval hospital of St. Katharine. Around 11,300 inhabitants, mostly port workers crammed into insanitary slums, lost their homes; only property owners received compensation. (...)
The docks were officially opened on 25 October 1828. Although well used, they were not a great commercial success and were unable to accommodate large ships. (...)
The St Katharine Docks were badly damaged by German bombing during the Second World War and never fully recovered thereafter. (...)
Most of the original warehouses were demolished and replaced by modern commercial buildings in the early 1970s, with the docks themselves becoming a marina. The development has often been cited as a model example of successful urban redevelopment. (...)
The area now features offices, public and private housing, a large hotel, shops and restaurants, a pub (The Dickens Inn, a former brewery dating back to the 18th century), a yachting marina and other recreational facilities. (...)
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- open plan, private