Artist studio plans approved for former Sunderland church

The former Apostolic Church, in Hudson Road.The former Apostolic Church, in Hudson Road.
The former Apostolic Church, in Hudson Road.
A former Sunderland University art lecturer has won a planning bid to open a studio at a derelict church.

In April, proposals were lodged to change the use of the former Apostolic Church, in Hudson Road.

According to planning documents, applicant Virginia Bodman plans to use the floor space as a painting studio.

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This will be used as a hub for personal projects, research and development.

The award-winning artist grew up in Wiltshire and attended various art schools before moving to Sunderland in 1990.

She served as senior lecturer in fine art at Sunderland University between 1990-2018 alongside lengthy spells as ‘head of painting’ and MA programme leader.

The Royal College of Art Painting School graduate was also an artist in residence at Durham Cathedral in 1983-4

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In an application submitted to Sunderland City Council, she said the church  has been available to purchase by community groups for eight months.

While the building owner considered hourly letting to community groups, she added,  the cost of caretaking and heating made it “economically unviable”.

In a covering letter to the council, Virginia Bodman also revealed her vision for the studio.

To benefit the community, she said the studio would  hold an annual open day to allow the public to view work-in-progress.

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The letter reads: “Having rented a studio in Sunniside for 28 years I am part of this community and have worked with many of the practitioners in the area.

“I believe that granting this change of use planning application would add to the cultural life of the Sunniside area, if it is unsuccessful I fear I will have to re-locate elsewhere, where affordable/buyable studio premises are available.

“As a former, and long-serving, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Sunderland I have contributed much to the development of artists and arts practitioners in the city over many years and would like to continue to be involved and to continue to support former students as I do now from my local rented studio.”

The plans to convert the church were approved on Thursday, May 30 by Sunderland City Council planners.

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There are no changes planned to the outside of the building apart from general maintenance.

In a statement, the artist added the studio would benefit the community rather than leaving the site “prey to vandalism and anti-social behaviour.”

Caption: Former Apostolic Church 8 Hudson Road. Picture: Google

Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporting Service.