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Ex-stripper Stella Vine joins fight to save Hampstead School of Art

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 March 2013

Artist Stella Vine with her painting of Kate Moss. Picture: Dafydd Jones

Artist Stella Vine with her painting of Kate Moss. Picture: Dafydd Jones

Archant

One of the Britain’s leading contemporary artists has called on Camden Council to save a Hampstead art school – set up by sculptor Henry Moore – which is facing an uncertain future.

An artist's impression of plans for an art pavillion (front left) on the King's College London site in Kidderpore Avenue, which Hampstead School of Art would like to be guaranteed in planning agreementsAn artist's impression of plans for an art pavillion (front left) on the King's College London site in Kidderpore Avenue, which Hampstead School of Art would like to be guaranteed in planning agreements

Developers are seeking permission to turn Hampstead School of Art into luxury flats in a major overhaul of King’s College London’s campus, in Kidderpore Avenue.

Barratt West London and the university want to replace the vast library, student halls and 1960s art school with 128 homes. They have pledged to build a three-storey art “pavilion” at the heart of the project.

But Stella Vine, a former pupil at Hampstead School of Art, whose art has been championed by collector Charles Saatchi, has joined students past and present in writing to town hall officials.

She has urged the council to legally bind a developer to replace the art school’s building with a state-of-the-art alternative.

In her letter to Camden town hall, Ms Vine, who has a home in Bloomsbury, said: “I had been a stripper for several years, a single parent with no support.It was extraordinary that painting kind of saved me from a world I was very unhappy in.”

Ms Vine, who divides opinion in the art world but is popular among dealers, added: “I really hope that once again London doesn’t lose some of it’s important character, and an essential and beautiful place needed by people from all walks of life. Who wants to live in an area with no soul?”

Principal Isabel Langtry has called on the art school’s prestigious alumni to write to the council and encourage planning bosses to guarantee a new home for the school in any future planning agreements.

She said: “At some point this area needs to be redeveloped and it would be lovely if Hampstead School of Art was the pulsating heart of it.

“People come to Hampstead for its culture, diversity and its history and how fantastic would it be if we could stay part of it... and the developer is very aware of that.”

The art school is also in talks with the university to temporarily relocate to Kidderpore Hall, across the road from its current site.

The Grade II-listed Grecian-style home, built in 1843 for East India leather trader John Teil, has been vacant for a number of years.

A spokeswoman for the developers said: “We are delighted to reaffirm our commitment to providing the Hampstead School of Art with a new facility and we are working closely with them on their temporary needs during construction.”

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