Spike Island – stop unfairly evicting artists!

Spike Island Director and Chair of Trustees

Spike Island, one of the country’s largest artists’ studio schemes, is evicting one of their founder members, 73-year-old Howard Silverman, as his wife battles cancer.

Join us in telling Spike Island to stop unfair evictions.

Howard Silverman is a deeply valued and highly regarded member of the artistic community in Bristol and beyond. Born in New York, Howard moved to Bristol in the 1970s where he was one of the founding members of Artspace, which later became Spike Island. He is an award-winning artist and a cornerstone of Bristol’s contemporary art scene. He mentors art students whilst promoting the public understanding of contemporary art though exhibitions and open studios. You can view his work here.

In 2019, while his wife Sally was receiving treatment for stage four cancer, the administration at Spike Island told Howard that he would have to apply to keep his studio. Despite his extremely challenging personal circumstances, Howard laboured over his application and submitted it with 17 letters and statements of support, including:

I do not think that anyone puts more effort into welcoming the public and engaging with them about their work than he does” (Fellow artist)

I believe Howard offers a significant amount to Spike Island and to all the students and emerging artists that pass through it. I hope many more students in the future will have the wonderful opportunity of working with Howard as I did.” (Art student supported by Howard)

Howard Silverman … epitomises a ‘Spike Island’ artist. His art changes and challenges, his practises vary and develops” (Arts charity leader)

The administration rejected Howard’s application without giving him any reasons. When Howard asked for copies of his records, so he could find out why he had been unsuccessful, the administration asked him to sign a confidentiality agreement. After Howard held his ground, Spike Island's Director at last stated that they are evicting him for reasons including “you failed to caption your images clearly or stick to the word counts”. They told Howard that his letters in support had been “procedurally excluded” i.e. ignored. They gave him three months to clear out. It took threats of legal action to get Spike Island to suspend this period until after the coronavirus lockdown.

We think Spike Island's new studio review scheme is fundamentally flawed, and has resulted in talented, committed artists like Howard being turned out onto the street.[1] It is no exaggeration to say that Spike Island would not exist without Howard Silverman. The least he and his fellow artists deserve is an open, fair and transparent process for renewing their studio leases.

Please tell Spike Island to stop unfairly evicting artists. Please sign this petition.

[1] In a recent poll of Spike Island studio holders, 82.5% of respondents said they were not satisfied with the studio review scheme

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To: Spike Island Director and Chair of Trustees
From: [Your Name]

Stop unfairly evicting artists, including Howard Silverman, from Spike Island. Please stop all evictions of artists from their studios until a fair review process has been agreed with studio holders.