Founded by Matthew Wood and then business partner Kelvin O'Mard in 1997 who had both met previously at Goldsmiths College, SFSA was established as a direct response from their personal struggles to find affordable studio space locally
in South East London.
The shortage of space available to the arts community at that time (a position that still remains across the capital today) was mainly due to the increasing numbers of artists' studios being lost to redevelopment of sites and a lack of strategic planning
and provision within local authorities, thus creating a chronic shortage of affordable space for artists and crafts makers to work and develop their studio practice.
SFSA's first studio buildings in 1997 were on Greenwich High Road within the old Merryweather factories, part of Reefmark Industrial Estate (now demolished and redeveloped into flats and a hotel). SFSA expanded its provision of studios in 1999 to include a
number of buildings on the old Greenwich Market site opposite Cafe Rouge and within John Humphries House on Stockwell Street.
Image: SFSA - Old Greenwich Market Site (1999 - 2009)
SFSA delivered an affordable studio space programme on this site for over 10 years including regular Open Studios events. The site was acquired by Greenwich University late 2008 to house their new campus library, TV studios and School of Architecture, Design
Image: SFSA - John Humphries House, Stockwell Street (1999 - 2009)
The land acquisition by Greenwich University forced SFSA to move in March 2009 to Mellish Industrial Estate, Harrington Way, near Woolwich by the Thames Barrier
Image: SFSA - Trinity Wharf Building, Harrington Way (March 2009 - June 2016)
After SFSA delivered phase one studios in Units 7 D & E mid-April 2009, Emafyl Properties, the site owners, agreed to support the expansion of the artists' and crafts maker studio provision with a capital investment building fund programme
that has continues to this date. The capital funding programme led to just over 440 artists' studio being developed, creating one of the largest single site affordable studio space projects in the UK and a flagship project for the sector in London.
[Full 2009 - 2016 history section update here soon]
Securing the Future – SFSA sign 250 year leasehold offering 80 affordable purpose built artists’ and craft and designer maker studio workspaces at Anthology Deptford Foundry - due for release mid-2018
Read full blog post - Securing the Future
Over the last few years Matthew Wood has been increasingly involved with the wider advocacy for affordable artists' studio provision across London, working with NFASP, GLA Artists' Workspace Taskforce, local authorities and other UK arts organisations including
the Crafts Council UK
“The affordable studio space sector is still losing large amounts of its provision across London due to the redevelopment and gentrification of areas. In many cases it’s the artists and crafts makers utilising spaces/buildings for significant years in cheaper
districts that have led to the increased value and viability of these areas being developed. We need to see an improved awareness and understanding within longer term Spatial Planning, Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) and area Masterplans of the benefits
affordable artists’ studio space provision provides including: employment and economic value, community engagement merits, widening participation opportunities, education and training and benefiting the public realm…”
– Matthew Wood