The Art Organisation 2001 - 2011

Since 2001 TAO have been involved in several projects relating to the regeneration of disused spaces, creating galleries and performance places.

In the course of these projects we have experienced dereliction of an extreme nature, cleaning graffited walls, shoveling excrements from the floors, mending rotten timbers, moving rubbish and high levels of decay. We have secured vacant properties when witnessing dangerous situations. Many empty buildings have been accessible to drug abusers and we often need to clear abandoned needles and syringes from the devastation in ignored premises where often doors are left open, windows are broken and any person can enter.

The Art Organisation's immediate response when identifying such properties is to locate the owner and raise awareness of these situations. It is now our policy to offer our services in an attempt to further our portfolio of regeneration, introducing arts to the community and providing the opportunity for our members to exhibit and show their artwork.



Welcome to
The Art Organisation



















©2010 TAO



TAZ - The Temporary Autonomous Zone
the former ABC Cinema, Hampstead Heath, London

This large building had been purchased by Marks & Spencer's who intended to convert it to one of their stores.
Whilst this idea was being processed the property stood derelict and was an eyesore in the community.

Performers from the then Warp Theatre Company agreed with the new owners to provisionally take residence and open it up as a temporary theatre. The Art Organisation, working with this group, utilised one of the former cinema spaces and transformed it to a white-walled gallery.

The building had originally been illegally squatted and used for all night parties to the disgust of the local residents.
This short-lived project though was welcomed and seen as an important addition to the neighbourhood.
Once the decay had been cleared and the interiors made clean, the local Council were consulted to ensure that health and safety standards were met, and the program of performance events and exhibitions were scheduled.

491 Gallery
Grove Green Road, Leytonstone, London E11

Another empty property, vandalised, abused and left in a state of disarray following the building of the M11 link road. Concerned for the community, members began the task of cleaning and repair, securing the premises which local children had been using as a playground.
The Art Organisation approached the current landlords, Transport for London, with a proposal to utilise and rebuild the property, wishing to transform it to a gallery space.

Transport for London said no, as this official approach through the registered status of the The Art Organisation Limited would set a precedence Transport for London were not willing to support.

The local community, however, having recognised this early work by our members were determined that the property would not be allowed to return to its previous state and have since taken the project of restoration further and continue to work on its regeneration.

Bluehouse Darkroom and Workshop
Wealden Forest Park, Herne Common, Kent

In association with the landlord, Terry Stanford, The Art Organisation agreed to rent one of several units that had stood derelict since their earlier vacation, if he was willing to fund its renovation, working with TAO. The Bluehouse darkroom, its equipment, workshop and office proved to be a welcome shelter in which to produce a portfolio of related artwork in large scale hand-printed black and white photography..

As an experiment to create a sustained unit, the darkroom, as a facility of The Art Organisation attained business rates exemption, creating education workshops accessible by the community. The Art Organisation originally received National Lottery funding through The Access For All Awards, to support a programme of education to young people involved with Kent County Council and Rainer and the 16+ program of Kent Youth Mentoring, culminating with a community exhibition at The Horsebridge Centre, Whitstable, Kent April 13th - 26th 2005. TAO then sought further ways to fund projects like this, for the benefit of the community, and in 2006 agreed with Kent County Council and Canterbury City Council Arts Department to support a second programme, aimed at teaching darkroom techniques to a larger group of young persons involved with 16+ Canterbury and Swale. TAO had further support on this project from Fotospeed for photographic materials. Full information is available online

The facility closed in June 2006 and transferred to the basement of the new Nottingham venue.

Margate Rocks
Thanet - Contemporary Arts Festival

Members of The Art Organisation were invited to show their work during the festival in 2002.
Margate Rocks takes advantage of empty premises in the old town of Margate, Kent. The Art Organisation thought it important to support this event in line with our constitution and, in agreement with the landlord, temporarily took possession of the former Midland Bank.

Unfortunately the organisers were not happy with The Art of Drawing Unconventionally workshop that was ran in the space and asked us to leave midweek before the festival ended and before we truly got the party started.

Post Art
Leytonstone High Street, London E11

Members took possession of this former Post Office following its purchase by The Iceland Group, who were hesitant in its conversion and had left it unoccupied. The members approached The Iceland Group and requested its temporary use. The space was then utilised and for short period exhibited the work of our members and local artists.

Forest Recycling Project
Waltham Forest E17

Key members worked toward the interior construction of the F.R.P. which now serves as an important asset to the community in the East of London, and provides recycled materials, wood, paint etc to those in need.

The Boat
somewhere on the River Thames...

The Art Organisation was donated part ownership of this derelict former minesweaper.
Restoration work to weatherproof the boat was secured having obtained grants from UnLtd - the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.
The Art Organisation will be seeking dry docks for in the near future for this important work to take place.

For more details on the history of TAO, contact us.

Independent Projects:

TAO Nottingham

The Nottingham project situated on Station Street, Ng2 was
founded by Robert Smith and Kelly Smith in 2006. The first
building to open, in 2007, was the gallery and teabar, hosting
exhibitions, workshops, classes, events, studios, darkroom,
screen-print and textile facilities. In 2009 we opened the
second building to include further studio and workshop space.
In 2010 we finished constructual work to 17-19 and are now working toward its internal design. Work also begun on 11-13.
more info

TAO Liverpool

Originally established in 2004 by Gregory Gurner and Robert
Smith. TAO have had possession of various properties in the
Ropewalk district of the city. Now occupying eleven premises,
the project managed by Greg Gurner and Steve Gent, offers
venues,several galleries, studios, a coffee bar, artist's facilities,
workshop spaces and recently, a shop. The project is soon to
claim its independence from TAO for the properties it manages
whilst TAO focuses on further buildings in Liverpool to support
the artist community and create more opportunities.
more info

TAO Leicester

Leicester is our latest project, starting in April 2009, by Robert
Smith and project manager Adam Kirk. We occupy one
building in Humberstone Gate of the city, and are working to
create exhibition galleries, a coffee bar , workshop space and
meeting rooms, studios and a woodworkshop and darkroom
facilities, and establish it as an independent company.
more info

TAO Leytonstone

TAO hold the lease of a single unit in Leytonstone, adjacent to a
community squat; 491 gallery. Initiated by Gregory Gurner, the
building is home to workshop and studio space for resident
artists, and has been so established for nine years. The building
has undergone substantial renovation over the years to make it
a working space and environment.
more info