Acme Studios — #17 Beck Road

Supporting Artists since 1972

#17 Beck Road

50 stories from The Acme Archive

The entire story of Beck Road cannot be told in a single story. This story looks at the formation of the Acme led artist community in the street.

Beck Road is a short road in Hackney which was designated as a conservation area by Hackney Council in 2021, due to the preservation of the two storey Victorian terrace houses in the road. In 1976, the houses were compulsorily purchased by the Inner London Education Authority, so that an extension and car park for Hackney Technical College could be built.

The houses were licenced to Acme, initially on a five year licence, with a grant of £750 for each house for the renovation work that would be needed, with the artists forming a community of support for the work required. Deborah Duffin recalls that “We spent months knocking down walls, getting basic plumbing in, plastering and decorating, with help and advice from Acme and other artists. But we had space to live and work at a nominal rent.” John Kippin photographed the renovations that were carried out at 53 Beck Road and contributed those images to the Acme Archive in 2012.

At its peak occupancy, there were 42 artists and dependents resident in Beck Road, including Maureen Paley, who opened her gallery, Interim Art at number 21. In addition to the artists in residence on the street, Acme also provided housing to a family of new staff at St Joseph’s Hospice (located on Mare Street, opposite the end of Beck Road) who needed accommodation. In 1988, the residents of Beck Road gathered in the road for the now famous photograph by Edward Woodman.