This site is run by Jonathan Orlek.

Artist-led Housing:

I have introduced the term ‘artist-led housing’ to refer to the provision of housing by an artist-led organisation. Artist-led housing allows artists to be resident within neighbourhoods for extended periods of time. This creates opportunities for occupants to act as engaged residents within local communities as well as practicing artists. Additionally, an integration of alternative/experimental forms of living into artistic work is often actively supported, for example through live/work spatial arrangements, sharing economies, the provision of a basic stipend irrespective of formal creative outputs, or the accommodation of atypical family units.

Artist-led housing projects have hosted writers, performers, architects, artists, sociologists and researchers, amongst others. While some residents within artist-led housing projects would explicitly articulate their practice as socially engaged art, as a way to emphasise the use of social relations and participatory processes in their work, others have engaged communities in debates, participatory practices and urban interventions more obliquely. A commonality which connects artist-led housing practices across artforms and disciplines is the development of situated and site-responsive practices which would otherwise be precluded by the separation of space and contexts in which to live (long-term) and work.

Researching Artist-led Housing:

I am undertaking a collaborative PhD between East Street Arts and the School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield. My research project is concerned with the provision of housing by artist-led organisations. It is also an embedded ethnographic study of a particular house called Artist House 45, located in South Leeds. Artist House 45 is a pilot project which has been set up and managed by the artist-led organisation East Street Arts.

Through the use of multiple ethnographic positions and methods, I am investigating artist-led housing as a critical spatial practice. This approach allows critical and spatial ‘functions’ of artist-led housing to be investigated together. It also allows the roles and programming responsibilities of artist-led organisations to be critically analysed in new ways in relation to housing provision, extending existing artist-led research.

I am also a director of Studio Polpo, a social enterprise architecture collective based in Sheffield.