Acme Studios — #46 A Ghost in Archway

Supporting Artists since 1972

#46 A Ghost in Archway

50 stories from The Acme Archive

This week’s story brings together contributions gathered from two artists previously unnamed in Acme’s tenancy records during Acme’s 50th anniversary artist engagement events to document Acme’s short life houses on Archway Road – Anne Teahan and Richard Philpott.

In 1976, Acme acquired houses on short term leases on Archway Road from the Department of Transport. These has been destined to be demolished to enable the widening of the A1 to become a dual carriageway. During the Acme online event to remember the short life houses, Anne Teahan contributed her memories of living at number 488 between 1979 and 1992 with Alan Marriott and their daughter Hannah. She recalled that the artist houses were a rough bohemia amongst the fairly affluent local families of her daughters school friends with tough living conditions and cold winters.

Other memories that Anne conjured were the artists’ involvement with the Archway Road Tenants Association and the Archway Road protests, with leafleting, marches and placards. Next door, at number 486, were Flipot Zoot (now also known individually as Richard Philpott and Mark Wainwright). In 1984, during the protests following the failure of the fourth enquiry into the Archway Road scheme, Flipot (Richard Philpott) was commissioned by the Archway Improvement Association to turn the house into an artwork “Road House”. This caused a considerable reaction from the Department of Transport and both they and the police demanded the removal of elements of the work designed to represent political figures.

Later, in 1990, the same house that had been the basis of “Road House” became the source for another work. It was in the front room of this house that Rachel Whiteread (who then had a studio in Acme’s Carpenters Road building) made “Ghost”, a work that is now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Anne recalls “She cast the inside of a room in blocks of white plaster and I remember her coming into our kitchen to fill buckets of water. I remember going to see it in progress with little Hannah.”

By 1994, the Archway Road Scheme had been cancelled and many of the artists were able to purchase their homes from the Department of Transport. Supplementary planning guidance provided by Haringey Council in 1995 notes that several houses in the area had been occupied by artists who had converted their ground floors to studios or workshop. It noted that favourable consideration should be given to ground floor studio or workshop use by current occupants and that the properties should remain in residential use for at least 15 years. Anne Teahan’s final memories of 488 Archway Road, 30 years after she left, are that “it still looked like a workshop and studio, It felt haunted - partly by my younger self, and of course by all the intervening decades of art activity by Alan”.