Portsmouth artists celebrate unveiling of Hot Walls Studios

Bill Branson, owner of the Tenth Hole, in The Canteen at the Hotwalls Studios which he also owns 

Picture: Sarah Standing (160936-6082)
Bill Branson, owner of the Tenth Hole, in The Canteen at the Hotwalls Studios which he also owns Picture: Sarah Standing (160936-6082)
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IT’s been years in the making – and now the art community is celebrating as the Hot Walls Studios project finally comes to life.

The transformation of Old Portsmouth’s Hot Walls into a creative quarter with 13 studios for artists to showcase their work and skills is now complete.

It’s amazing. I am eager, and I’m looking forward to being part of a community of artists. That’s the most exciting thing.

Fay George

The hoardings surrounding the development site have come down and the public got the chance to see the glass-fronted studios where artists will be based.

And right in the heart of the development is a bistro called The Canteen, which officially opens its doors to the public tomorrow.

The project was made possible thanks to a £1.75m grant from the government’s coastal communities fund, £100,000 of council funding and £40,000 from the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire.

Artists and life-long friends Jessie Potter and Lee Rey cannot wait to get their studio space under way.

They specialise in textiles and other materials and want to be able to sell their work.

Jessie, 27, said: ‘We’re experimental in what we do.

‘We have never had a space to be creative, that’s why we love this complex.

‘We have now got the chance to use an amazing space to show what we can do.’

Lee, 27, said: ‘This is amazing for Portsmouth as well. We grew up here, we moved away, then came back. And the changes have been amazing. We couldn’t believe it.

‘We think it’s unbelievable something like this is happening in Portsmouth and we’re proud to be a part of it.’

Last night, artists and community leaders came together at the studios to celebrate the work.

Fay George, who specialises in pottery, hopes to hold pottery classes in her studio.

She said: ‘It’s amazing. I am eager, and I’m looking forward to being part of a community of artists.

‘That’s the most exciting thing.’

All 13 studios have already been snapped up, and everyone is expected to be moved in by September.

Building work began in October last year.