We propose a cluster of artist residencies within the existing plotland settlement of North Benfleet, Basildon. These residencies will offer a unique opportunity for artists whilst bringing long-term benefits to a complex, equally unique plotland community.
A hundred years ago, working class Londoners sought a better life through investing labour and capital in the fields of Essex. Many of these plotlands survive as scattered, incomplete settlements, with their development having long been curtailed by the Green Belt.
Basildon Council has recently adopted new policy which allows infill residential development to happen in the plotlands. Using this new policy, we propose that a consortia of Essex- and London-based arts organisations, developers and volunteer groups (including international partnerships) develop a network of low-impact, mixed-tenure residency buildings for artists and makers, on vacant plots, intermingling with the existing homes of North Benfleet.
Artists, facing prohibitive studio costs in urban areas of East Anglia, as well as the capital, will be offered the chance to relocate for a range of timescales to these provocative and under-documented environments: places associated with freedom and creativity and which are increasingly, through initiatives like @radicalessex and @focalpointgallery, on the cultural radar.
In turn, these long-derided and underexplored settlements will continue to develop as originally intended, and also benefit from an injection of new people and new ideas. The structuring of the residency programme would be designed to support projects and practices which engaged with, and enhance, the local community.
Artists Arcadia was a speculative proposal put forward to the Greater London Authority in 2017. It was made as part of our successful submission to the ADUP2 framework.
- Client: Greater London Authority
- Dates: 2017
- Collaborators: Jes Fernie
- Status: Speculative Proposal for Greater London Authority