Hot Walls studios are a hotbed of creativity

They were once used as an artillery barracks. But now historic arches down by the Solent in Old Portsmouth have been transformed into a cultural hub.

Thursday, 15th September 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:49 pm
Makers Table is run by qualified art lecturers from South Downs College Ruth Lacey, Emma Plato and Sarah Radford

The Hot Walls arches are part of the city’s harbour fortifications, parts of which date back to the 15th century.

But now they have become glass-fronted working studios for artists, designers and creative companies.

Tenants are loving their new surroundings, while visitors have also been drawn to the area by a trendy bistro called The Canteen.

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Thirteen studios have been created in the revamp, made possible thanks to a £1.75m grant from the government’s coastal communities fund, £100,000 of city council funding and £40,000 from the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire.


Alex Fountain, Charlie Timson and Owen Beynon are all film production graduates from the University of Portsmouth.

They share a studio named Electric Sheep which specialises in creative film services. Its diverse portfolio offers promotional films, music and art videos playing on a film reel.

Alex says: ‘People are a little confused at first as there is no physical art, but they become very interested.’

He adds: ‘It’s amazing because there wasn’t much going on in this area, but now it gives people something to do.’


Studio 9 is called Makers Table and is occupied by qualified art lecturers from South Downs College Ruth Lacey, Emma Plato and Sarah Radford.

The shop focuses on a variety of art such as watercolour painting, illustrations, textiles, jewellery, sculptures and print-making.

The trio had been searching for a place to share for a while. Sarah says: ‘We applied thinking it was never going to happen, so when we were accepted we were delighted.’

They plan to run a variety of creative workshops aimed at adults, plus they hope to start child workshops.

Sarah says: ‘The support we have had has been overwhelmingly positive.’


Lizzie Cornelius is a painter at Studio 2, which she has called I Can See The Sea.

It contains a collection of naive/pop/graphic paintings of coastal scenes.

She describes the new studios as ‘like a little community’ and has praised the council for giving her this opportunity.

Lizzie says: ‘It has really been received well by locals who were concerned by the development.’

She has been an artist since 2007, when she quit her job at HM Revenue and Customs to do an art course at Chichester College.

She then went on to do her first exhibition during the Maydays art trail held in Hayling Island.


James Mouland, who occupies Studio 13, is an English artist and designer based in Portsmouth and Istanbul, Turkey.

He specialises in contemporary traditional Turkish Ebru, which is the historic art form of painting on water, also known as marbling.

He started in 2009 when living in Istanbul. His wife took him to Moda, an artistic quarter, as a birthday gift and he went on to train with a Turkish Ebru master.

James says: ‘The response is really good. Because I’m doing live demonstrations, people are really into it. It’s been really full-on.’


Alice Hume went to Winchester School of Arts, where she studied textile design, specialising in woven textiles.

She has always wanted to have her own studio where she can create her own brand of textiles to sell.

After applying for a space at the Hot Walls, she says: ‘I couldn’t believe I got it, I was so happy.’

Her studio is number 12 and her business is called Venderhume.

Alice describes the area as a really nice community to work in.

She says: ‘On the opening night, I was talking for five hours and in the first week I didn’t do any work because of how busy it was.’

She also teaches weave workshops, which will be running in her studio from next month.