Ever since Workspace announced plans to redevelop Faircharm Trading Estate, most of its tenants have been facing an uncertain future. Cor Blimey Arts & Core Gallery – who have been developing their practice, activities and events for the past seven years into a blossoming international programme – are the latest to come up against the inflexibility of the landlords.
Like all the other shyster developers, Workspace will no doubt be marketing their new development on the basis that it is situated in the heart of Deptford's vibrant and thriving artist quarter, as they contribute to a gradual squeezing out of grassroots artistic and educational activity.
In a statement today, Rosalind Davis spoke on behalf of the studio and gallery's management:
STATEMENT ON REASONS FOR MOVE
If anyone thinks community isn’t important, the recent ‘sign or get out’ debacle between Cor Blimey Arts/Core Gallery and our landlords Workspace at Faircharm Trading Estate will prove otherwise. On Friday, October 28th 2011 we were given the ultimatum to sign a financially constricting and binding contract to remain in our studios – or get out by Monday October 31st.
We gave notice on our existing lease three months previously with the understanding that we were still negotiating terms on a new lease. It was insinuated that although our current lease would expire on October 31st, negotiations would continue after this date until an agreement was reached – a flexible agreement suitable for artist led spaces such as ourselves.
However, it was with great surprise and dismay that, at the eleventh hour, we were presented with a ‘sign or get out’ ultimatum from Workspace. This demand came late on Friday evening, before the weekend when there would be no management personnel on their premises to answer our questions. To put their email into context, Workspace had kept us waiting for a reply to our previous correspondence for three weeks – this despite previously pleading with us to stay until 2013 at which time the whole complex will be redeveloped.
Our position became untenable. Faced with possible eviction and damage or loss to our materials, equipment and artwork, we moved off site. Over the seven years Cor Blimey studios has been based at Workspace, we have supported artistic achievment and excellence, enhancing Deptford’s artistic community in the process. Unfortunately this has clearly not been recognised by Workspace.
Workspace finally responded on Monday morning saying they wanted to keep us on the site, even suggesting we move all our work back in once negotiations have finished. Do they have any perception of how artists work and the financial constraints we are all under ? Simply hiring vans to move our materials is the equivalent to some artists’ entire studio rent for a month.
At times like these, community is where strength comes from. Our studio community has shown tremendous steadfastness, courage and sheer hard work in the face of these dreadful circumstances. Deptford’s larger arts community have mobilised, with artists including Margaret Higginson, Graham Crowley, Michaela Nettell and Rich White helping us move into a temporary location nearby. Furthermore, the many messages of support we have received from across the world has been phenomenal. For this, we are deeply grateful.
The Core Gallery ethos is generosity, integrity and nurturing artists. We have had outstanding exhibitions and fantastic events, and are proud to have strong principals and a great many supporters who admire them too. Cor Blimey Arts and Core Gallery are not just physical spaces – they will continue long into the future.
In the new year we will be re-opening at a new site, continuing our internationally renowned programme of exhibitions, talks, events and support for artists. With our deep felt thanks and appreciation to our community. We shall keep you posted! In the meantime, there are some DIY Educate events left this year which we would love to see you at.
Rosalind Davis, Core Gallery & DIY Educate Manager, the Core Gallery Management Team and Cor Blimey Studio Artists
Meanwhile, Brockley Central reports on the influx of new hotels on Greenwich High Road, provoking this anonymous, accurate, but somewhat depressing comment:
"(Deptford High Street) is quite simply a very poor high street in an impoverished part of London with a market that sells a great deal of sub-standard merchandise. It has been like that for the last couple of decades.
I guess there a plenty of people who would like it to be better and talk up every new development. Maybe they have invested in the area and are patiently waiting for it to take off so they can cash in. The station is being renovated and there half way down an odd looking building seems to have taken root. But it is always one step forward, one step back.
The High St is colonised by bookies, street drinkers very much in evidence and the area is beset by social problems. Creek Road has been developed and turned into a canyon lined by yuppie flats. The marketing makes much of its proximity to Laban Dance School, while at the same time boxing it in. At the other end we have a Travel Lodge tacked onto another gated community of yuppie flats used as a dormitory by workaholics who spend most of their waking hours at Canary Wharf. The smattering of artists holed up in plywood cubicles fashioned out of redundant warehousing has yet to engender a chain of vibrant bars and nightlife along Deptford High St. It is no Brick Lane.
Deptford is grim and I remain unconvinced that these developments will improve the area any more than previous efforts to tart the place up."