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UAL graduate launches residency for creatives from low socio-economic backgrounds

Dark photo of a club night at unit 7
  • Written byEleanor Harvey
  • Published date 26 August 2022
Dark photo of a club night at unit 7
Image courtesy of UN7TSEVEN

Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion graduate Holly Nolan has set up UN7TSEVEN a residency for emerging creatives from low socio-economic backgrounds.

The artist development residency is an alternative to exploitive internships, low-paid apprenticeships and unpaid assistant roles, which are not financially viable for most working-class graduates.

UN7TSEVEN offers creatives the chance to take over an industrial unit in Hackney for one month each to collaboratively create a multisensory installation, live event and open exhibition.

Holly explains how UN7TSEVEN came about, and how you can enter.

The space when it's set up with a DJ booth
Image courtesy of UN7TSEVEN

How UN7TSEVEN started

In 2018, frustrated by the lack of paid opportunities within my specialised field of couture embroidery for menswear, I stopped interning and began to work part-time for multipurpose art venues: STYX and The Cause Tottenham Hale.

During my final graduate year, I’d become heavily influenced by the Acid House movement, Avant Garde club nights of the 1980’s Blitz Kids and designer Charles Jeffery’s DIY club nights in Dalston that provided space and opportunity to celebrate and promote working-class creatives.

In my free time, I began to convert a wood and metal workshop within the lower level of the warehouse into a makeshift gallery and event space.

In 2019 I teamed up with my brother to run a series of pilot residencies and pop-up club events to test run the concept; using salvaged materials from the surrounding industrial estate and money generated from tickets and a DIY cash bar.

Since then, UN7TSEVEN has gone on to receive free equipment and materials from the charity Makebank, an award from Future Ventures Generation Foundation, curated an installation for Netil House Hackney and most recently secured a project grant from Arts Council England to fund a 5-month residency programme starting in November 2022.

Someone painting - they're on a set of step ladders and you can only see their feet.
Image courtesy of UN7TSEVEN

UN7TSEVEN residency

UN7TSEVEN is an artist development residency programme supporting the work of emerging creatives from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Building on the 2019 pilot 2 artists/designers and 2 DJs will take over an industrial unit in Hackney for one month each to collaboratively create a multisensory installation, live event and open exhibition.

Though largely self-directed each participant will be able to develop practical skills, networks, confidence in collaboration and enhance their employability.

The UN7TSEVEN residency programme offers each participant:

  • £400 grant to help assist each artist support themselves financially
  • Twenty-four-seven access to a collective studio space free of charge for one month
  • Four 1:1 mentor sessions from an array of industry professionals offering advice, support and creative direction.
  • A group budget of £1,500 to cover the cost of materials and production of each installation.
  • A promotional private event in collaboration with the independent record label and event company Rhythm Section.
  • A weeklong open exhibition to connect with the local Hackney community, London’s creative student network and practicing professionals, both emerging and established.

Deadline for applications

  • Midnight, Friday 23 September 2022
  • Application is free

Mentoring opportunity

UN7TSEVEN is also looking to recruit UAL alumni from a broad range of disciplines who are interested in providing mentoring as part of the residency programme.

Got any questions?

If this is something that you're interested in getting involved with, please contact: