Ukrainian artists join takeover of Hampstead Police station cells

The former Hampstead Police Station, in Rosslyn Hill, which Abacus Belsize Primary School want to turn into a school.

The former Hampstead Police Station, in Rosslyn Hill, which Abacus Belsize Primary School want to turn into a school. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Archant

Ukrainian artists will exhibit their work in response to the war in the cells of Hampstead Police Station.

Courage to Create is part of a programme of exhibitions, community events and artist's workshops run by The Koppel Project, which took over the derelict station last November.

The Holborn-based arts charity moves into abandoned buildings awaiting development and turns them over to emerging artists as temporary studio and exhibition space.

Communications manager Art Haxhijakupi said after a six month clean up, the first 15 artists are moving into the Grade II listed building and will hold an open house event on May 7 and 8.

"We approach property owners who let us use buildings while they get planning permission," he said. 

"We found the building in a complex condition, it had been unused for so long, there was so much work to be done with no electricity, or running water. But it has so much potential for community participation  - we have set aside a room for the Hampstead community to send us event and exhibition ideas."

Closed for a decade, the Rosslyn Hill station was subject to a failed bid to turn it into a school - then the former Magistrate's Court was trashed during an illegal rave. The DfE sold the site in October 2021 to South Hampstead developer Redington Capital.

The former Magistrate's courtroom in Rosslyn Hill was damaged during an illegal Halloween rave in October 2021

The former Magistrate's courtroom in Rosslyn Hill Hampstead was damaged during an illegal Halloween rave in October 2021 - Credit: Courtesy of the Koppel Project

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Haxhijakupi said they plan to work with a specialists to restore the courtroom.

"We are not planning to use it because we don't want to expose it to any damage, but we will look after its restoration working with specialists who restore historic sites."

Koppel have refurbished 600m2 of first and second floor offices into studios, rented at affordable prices to artists with connections to Hampstead. 

Haxhijakupi said while the area is a longstanding haven for artists, few today can afford studio space.

"People who have an affinity with the location will get priority to rent a studio. We have a good network in Hampstead of existing artists and galleries like Zebra One."

The former cells at Hampstead Police Station

The former cells at Hampstead Police Station which will host artist's residencies including a month long exhibition by Ukrainian artists in response to the war - Credit: Courtesy of the Koppel Project

The former ground floor cells will be used for short residencies with Koppel asking "artists who have an unconventional process to respond to the space".

The open weekend will see a mini exhibition of artists moving into the station, children's printing workshops and an exhibition of specially commissioned work by six Ukrainian artists still living there.

"The logistics are complicated and it's a difficult time to leave their families, but some artists with UK Visas will travel with the work. The weekend is a unique opportunity to meet artists in their studios and learn about The Koppel Project Station's creative programme."

Hampstead Police Station Cells

Hampstead Police Station Cells will host residencies by unconventional artists in response to the space - Credit: Courtesy The Koppel Project

Register for the open weekend https://artsvp.co/dfe1c3?mc_cid=0a31e9a753&mc_eid=081e91ec6a