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Upcoming exhibition RENTERS! is making noise about London’s private rental market

Bringing together UAL students and recent graduates, RENTERS! brings to life the research carried out in Arts SU’s Private Renters Report.


Article by Jamie Davies

Private View: Thursday 6 June, 6-9pm (book free tickets)

Exhibition: 7 – 16 June 2024

Opening Times: Monday – Sunday, 12 - 5pm

Where: Safehouse 1, Copeland Park, Peckham, SE15 3SN

Or find out more here or on ArtRabbit

Of all the things that are great about living in London, and there are lots, renting isn’t one of them. Mould, rodents, inadequate heating, safety issues, leaks: it’s no wonder almost 40% of students have reported choosing to stay longer in university buildings to avoid going home. Throw in the nightmare of landlords, obscene rent payments and the extreme competition involved with even finding a place to stay, and renting as a student can often feel harder than doing the actual degree!

It’s simply not good enough, and while the issue is larger than any one organisation can hope to tackle, no change will ever come without dialogue. That dialogue is the aim of the upcoming UAL exhibition RENTERS! — launching early June at Safehouse 1 in Peckham.

Bringing together UAL students and recent graduates, the exhibition brings to life the research carried out in Arts SU’s Private Renters Report. I know reports aren’t glamorous, but this one’s genuinely worth checking out. If ever you’ve felt physically, emotionally or mentally impacted by your living conditions—I know I have—then you might be comforted by the fact that you’re not alone: a worrying number of other students have too.

Over 300 students answered the call to share their experience, portraying with harrowing honesty how much living in London has hurt their wallet, health and outlook on life. It couldn’t have been easy, and they definitely deserve appreciation for their openness. Not everyone could have been as bold.

As for the exhibition itself, there’s a stunning amount of variety on show. UAL students and alumni from a range of courses and colleges contributed sculptures, paintings, photographs, videos, design pieces and a whole lot more. As well as being a thoughtful invitation to discuss the critical issues of renters rights, guardianship, health, art, privatisation and gentrification, RENTERS! is also a fantastic showcase for the talent of UAL artists.

Be sure to check out the schedule of panels, workshops and events taking place throughout the exhibition’s duration, too, including a unique ‘Coup de cake’ housing workshop. If you like your housing campaign discussion to come with a little bit of sweetness, you won’t want to miss it!

Between studies, employment and a high-cost yet low-quality private rental market, students living in London juggle so many responsibilities and stresses. Hopefully, this exhibition will spark a conversation about how both the University and Arts SU can support students simply looking for a safe, warm, secure roof over their heads.

There’s no magic wand that can fix all of this, but by connecting with communities and recognising common ground, we’ll have a much easier time identifying the collective actions that can make renting life easier for us all.

That shouldn’t be too much to ask for, right?


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