THE ART OF HOUSE BUY­ING

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Property -

Chelsea’s houses on the banks of the River Thames at­tracted clus­ters of artists in the 19th cen­tury. Wil­liam Turner was mes­merised by the light and the chang­ing state of the tide and lived here qui­etly with his mis­tress un­til he died in 1851. By then the Pre-Raphaelites had dis­cov­ered it. Hol­man Hunt, Dante Gabriel Ros­setti and their cir­cle gave it no­to­ri­ety. James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sar­gent moved in by the turn of the 20th cen­tury, adding to the plethora of blue plaques. To­day the Chelsea Arts Club, set up by Whistler in 1891, is still loved for its rack­ety at­mos­phere by artists, po­ets, writ­ers, dancers, ac­tor and mu­si­cians. Money poured in dur­ing the Six­ties, when the Kings Road was the cen­tre of Swing­ing Lon­don, and since then the prop­erty mar­ket has be­come prime. A three-bed­room house in Markham Street, just off the Kings Road, which would have sold for £18,000 in the Six­ties, is now sell­ing through Clut­tons (020 7584 1771) for £2.95m. The artists’ stu­dios of the 19th cen­tury, hid­den be­hind the grand stucco-fronted vil­las of the Boltons con­ser­va­tion area, are be­ing re­stored and sold as pieds-à-terre with a ho­tel fin­ish. At Bolton Stu­dios Sav­ills (020 7578 9000) is sell­ing one and two-bed­room flats in what it calls Lon­don’s “orig­i­nal bo­hemian quar­ter” with prices start­ing at £1.265m. Nearby, the Saatchi Gallery shows the new young artists’ work and the Biben­dum Oys­ter Bar serves up plates of seafood and cham­pagne. The whole of east Lon­don now of­fers refuge to artists who can­not af­ford their old west Lon­don haunts. When did it start? Some would say it was in the late Eight­ies when Damien Hirst, then a stu­dent at Gold­smith’s Col­lege in New Cross, held the first Frieze ex­hi­bi­tion in the dis­used Port of Lon­don Au­thor­ity build­ing at Sur­rey Docks. Charles Saatchi came along and the group known as Young Bri­tish Artists was launched. Hox­ton emerged in the Nineties as a hith­erto ne­glected area with an in­ter­est­ing past, a sense of place and lower prices, and so it be­came a new cre­ative quar­ter on the edge of the City. Prices have soared and it is al­ready gen­tri­fied with cafés and restau­rants cre­at­ing a Mont­martre at­mos­phere in Hox­ton Square, and hi-tech in­dus­tries mov­ing in around City Road. De­vel­op­ers trade on the art div­i­dend. In the aptly named Gains­bor­ough Stu­dios West, a stylish mod­ern build­ing de­signed by Munken­beck and Mar­shall on the site of the for­mer Gains­bor­ough Film Stu­dios (Hitch­cock’s The Lady Van­ishes was made here in 1938), Sav­ills (020 7226 1313) is sell­ing a huge three-floor apart­ment with six out­side ter­races and grand­stand views of the Lon­don sky­line at £2.5m. Those who can no longer af­ford Hox­ton or Shored­itch have moved to Bow. Ac­cord­ing to the Bow Arts Trust, the area has the largest num­ber of artists and arts or­gan­i­sa­tions liv­ing and work­ing to­gether of any cap­i­tal city in the world. Bow Arts runs The Nun­nery in Bow, where stu­dios can be rented and the Open Stu­dios weekend now in­volves 400 artists. New flats built by Telford in the Fielder Apart­ments at Bow Trin­ity have sold quickly but there is a one-bed­room apart­ment left at £360,000 (sales 020 3538 3457). Peck­ham is now the place to be in south Lon­don. Cam­ber­well Col­lege of Arts (alumni in­clude fash­ion de­signer Jeff Banks, Turner Prize win­ner Howard Hodgkin and film di­rec­tor Mike Leigh) ex­udes an arty buzz. En­ter­pris­ing artists such as Jo Den­nis and Dido Hal­lett have set up a not-for-profit arts venue in Caro­line Gar­dens Chapel where film and art-mak­ers can show their work. “There are now edgy art gal­leries such as the South Lon­don Gallery, pretty streets of Ge­or­gian houses and quirky pop-ups like Frank’s Café at the top of a multi-storey car park,” says Robin Chatwin of Sav­ills. But se­ri­ous house-buy­ers are here too. “It has felt the over­spill from Dul­wich and Peck­ham Rye and is now pop­u­lar with first-time buy­ers and young fam­i­lies look­ing for bet­ter value,” he says. Artist Pas­cale Jor­dan is sell­ing

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