Exit Forest Hill station.
Cross the road (safely).
Don’t stare at your feet- you’ll miss it.
Look to your right.
Welcome to Havelock Walk!
A uniquely creative community lives right in the centre of Forest Hill, just a stones-throw from the hustle and bustle of the High Street.
Hidden in plain sight, Havelock Walk is a community of artists, designers, photographers, musicians and other creatives.
As part of the Dulwich Festival 2016, the inhabitants opened their doors to the public.
— Havelock Walk (@HavelockStudios) March 12, 2016
Bathed in sunshine, the atmosphere at Havelock was creative and relaxed.
There was live music, snacks, drinks and ice cream to entice visitors.
A raffle even took place, the top prizes being artworks donated by some of Havelock’s most well known artists.
The event was an opportunity to meet the artists, to see where they live, work and display their art.
Visitors took to Twitter to praise the event.
— principessa my (@principessamy) April 4, 2016
— Marv (@big_marvin) May 15, 2016
— Stables (@stablesmusic) May 15, 2016
— Bola Lyon (@BolaLyon) May 14, 2016
“Suddenly Havelock Walk has become millionaire’s row”
Most studio doors were open for tours and talks, however, two houses at the end of Havelock Walk had not opened up to the public.
These properties recently became the first on Havelock Walk to be bought by non-artists.
The decline in artist studio space is a pervasive problem for London, stemming from the rise in house prices and gentrification of historically poorer parts of the city.
This is affecting many established artistic communities.
Evidently, Havelock is not immune to an increasingly gentrified London.
A recent government report said the creative industries are worth around £35 billion annually to London.
According to the same report, the capital is set to lose 3,500 artist studios in the next five years.
In January, former mayor Boris Johnson announced a £20 million London Regeneration Fund, to tackle the shortage of creative workspaces.
This investment, whilst funding new spaces, won’t much benefit existing art communities like Havelock Walk.
Property website Zoopla estimate one of the houses on Havelock Walk to be worth £1,478,000.
This is a 71% value increase compared to 5 years ago, when the same property was valued at £613,000.
As artists get priced out of communities like this one in Forest Hill, there are concerns among the residents that creative live/work communities may be an endangered species.
Al Riddell spoke to the artists on Havelock Walk about this issue.
To find out more about the Dulwich Festival’s Artist’s Open House events, click here.