As Autumn slowly arrives, artists in non-airconditioned studio spaces are able to increase activity. Not so in Hamilton's Clocktower Studios where there has been a recent exodus. City of Newcastle generously made this space in Beaumont Street available to Renew Newcastle in 2016. Since then it has housed 14 enterprises providing opportunities to develop new local businesses. With the closure of Renew last week, Clocktower has been vacated and handed back to the council.
Clocktower Studios has been an extraordinary asset for Newcastle as an incubator for creative exploration and development particularly in terms of photography and photomedia. It has provided significant cultural and economic benefits for the community as studio, workshop, gallery, production, rehearsal and office space. Tenants have referenced the value of working in a space surrounded by other professional peers to exchange ideas.
Jon Reid has produced reproductions of local artists work, developed and printed photographs in the dark room, shot commissioned portraits and conducted post-production for architectural and commercial work.
Edwina Richard's portraits of local women and Ryan Fitzgerald's evocative wet plate images have been exhibited at exhibitions both locally and nationally. Ali Sobel-Read conducted regular pottery workshops while Dylan Smyth published a book that has appeared in national art book fairs. Having a media production and marketing suite enabled Kerry Staite to transform his elite cycling product k-Lite into a viable local business that now employs people in a factory and exports globally.
The future of the Clocktower building has an element of uncertainty. For the moment, like many of the spaces that Renew has vacated, it remains empty and ominous. In the city's changing landscape though, this won't be the case for long.