Bloc Studios was founded in 1996 by four art college graduates as an antidote to the then lack of studio facilities in Sheffield. Originally situated on Sidney Street in a former cultery factory, Bloc rapidly grew and ultimately filled that building, taking on more space as new tenants came. In 2001, armed with an extensive waiting list and under the management of Richard Bartle, Bloc relocated to its current site on Arundel Street and grew from these humble origins into the thriving community it is today. Bloc remains an artist led initiative and is currently home to 65 artists and makers working in 54 studios and a variety of art mediums.
Bloc currently provides:
- 24 hour access
- Free secure parking
- Cycle shelter
- Central heating
- Free WiFi access
- Affordable, secure, self contained spaces with good natural light
- Outside working areas
- Recycling facilities and communal recycled wood shed
- Kitchen and communal areas
- Shared communal garden space
- No additional service charges
As part of the relocation in 2001, Bloc Projects, a curatorial and administrative body dedicated to supporting and exhibiting the work of recent graduates and early to mid career artists, was formed. To this day, Bloc Projects remains a critical element in the regional art scene that has over the past years exhibited a wide variety of artists and their work, many going on to develop their careers as a result. In addition, Bloc Projects recently expanded the gallery space and created a front of house area for selling artist work and welcoming visitors.
Now resident in the former Granton Knife Company building on Arundel Street, Sheffield, Bloc has been providing studio facilities for artists for over 20 years. Its mission: to provide affordable spaces and a creative and stimulating environment for artists to work in, remains crucial in the development of its business profile. Bloc's location in the heart of Sheffield city center, making it close to the local amenities; railway and bus stations, and the local art galleries and colleges, is a definite bonus for the residents. Bloc prides itself on being a critical element in the arts community in both Sheffield and the Yorkshire region, and has over this period provided resident artists with the freedom and opportunity to develop their ideas in a studio space that is not only suitable and affordable, but also free from the burden of being obliged to participate in meetings, housekeeping, and maintenance duties. Tenants at Bloc are free to carry on their practices in peace and quiet, and as they see fit, and may engage in the community as little or as much as they desire. At Bloc we only ask that a tenant be a good and supportive member. Artists and individuals within Bloc have exhibited widely across the region as well as at other venues around Britain, Europe and the world.
Bloc is a not-for-profit limited company with charitable objectives. Under the continued management of Richard Bartle, Bloc continues to expand as well as improve on the facilities it already provides. Richard says:
'As a practicing artist myself i understand the need for space; the need for a sense of community, and appreciate that sharing ones skills for the good of a community is important if one wishes to create something good and outside the ordinary grind of life. Bloc was created out my own desire not to work in isolation, but alongside other artists. As such i have endeavoured to apply all my knowledge and experience from both business and the construction industry to try and make Bloc as self sufficient an sustainable possible. I guess, the greatest feeling and reward is to walk out into the yard and see the milling about and casual chats that give Bloc the dynamic energy it has in such abundance, or better still, when i hear of one of my tenant doing well. After all, support and community are Bloc's purpose'
Bloc continues to make self sustainability, improvement, and the reduction of its carbon footprint its key aims. Apart from an ongoing renovation program, Bloc is currently working to create several disabled access spaces and toilet facilities, to install solar and wind energy infrastructure alongside its extensive recycling and reuse areas, and to maintain it exhibitions and education program well in to the future.