Chiswick House Artist Faces Eviction From His Studio After 25 Years

Barry Martin told he must pay five figure sum to continue in South Lodge


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Barry Martin, artist-in-residence at Chiswick House and Gardens for the past twenty-five years has been told he must pay £25,000 to keep using the South Lodge (seen above) as his studio, or face eviction.

Hounslow Council has denied it is threatening to evict the artist and said (see statement below) that he is welcome to renew with their proposed rental for the new lease.

The 76-year old artist, who is being supported by leading figures in the art world, says he has spent over £25,000 of his own money renovating the Lodge since he started to use it as a studio in the 80s. It was then a derelict building, formerly used a groundsman's home, which he discovered had lying abandoned since the 1960s. He offered to renovate it as a studio.

Research revealed an Elizabethan well and trough that may have served travellers and horses on the old west road out of London en route to Bath.

Barry was offered a 35-year lease by Chiswick House and use of the studio if he kept it repaired, but he opted for a 25-year lease. He then engaged the help of an architect to restore it.

barry martin in front of Chiswick House
Barry Martin outside Chiswick House

He told, that in 2014 he was offered a further ten year agreement, by Chiswick House & Gardens Trust. However, Hounslow Council have now told him that the lease is under their control not CHGT.

"It was my understanding that when Chiswick House Trust took over management, when they were awarded National Lottery money, that the South Lodge came under their jurisdiction, not Hounslow Council. I have asked people to search for those agreements to prove this. All my dealings were with Chiswick House."

"Hounslow Council want to put this Lodge up on the market at a commercial rate, but it is part of the philantrophic and cultural atmosphere of Chiswick House.

"I restored it when it would have been pulled down. I thought I would have about five years left and then I could let another artist use it." He said restoring the Lodge (see image below) had contributed to the general ethos of Chiswick House and had given it cultural importance.

Mr. Martin said when he first received the notice from the Council it felt like "a surreal joke." He felt "let down" by Chiswick House management who had not supported him on the matter.

Chiswick House has no comment to make on the matter.

Leading figures in the art world have come to the support of the artist and have written a letter signed by several artists. The Director of the Tate Modern, Frances Morris and Julius Bryant of the V&A attacked Hounslow Council saying; "To burden without prior warning or discussion, such a crude, hamfisted notice of this ilk onto a 76-year old artist, in what will be the last years of his tenure at Chiswick, is an applling indictment of the arbitrary tactics that local councils see fit to exercise."

Barry Martin became the most versatile and prolific British exponent of Kinetic Art in London in the Swinging Sixties and early 190s. His portrait has recently been painted by Keith Milow, and currently hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said; “Far from trying to evict Mr Martin, we are keen to support arts and culture in the borough and would very much hope that he renews his lease and continues his creative endeavours at the gatehouse at Chiswick House on commercial terms.

“As a responsible landlord, at the end of his tenancy we served Mr Martin with the relevant notice which would allow him to continue to lease the property if he wished to, and the notice sets out a proposed rental for the new lease; Mr Martin has not yet responded to the notice with any alternative proposals.

“There are also some additional works to the property that are required to be maintained by the tenant under the lease, and we have served notice to have these works carried out.

“If Mr Martin does not wish to take a new tenancy, we will seek an occupier whose use would be compatible with both the location and planning legislation for the site, which would include an artist’s studio.”


July 3, 2019

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