A COMMUNITY project which breathed new life into vacant buildings has been wound up.

Directors at Slackspace Colchester have ended the formal side of the organisation after spending almost two years searching for a new premises.

The art group, which took over empty town centre buildings and filled them with work from local and undiscovered artists, left the former police station, in Queen Street, in May 2015 and has failed to find a new home.

Chris Clarke, one of the group’s directors, said while the formal side of the company has ceased, the members will still be on hand to help budding artists find exhibition space across the town.

Mr Clarke said: “We have made the decision to close the formal side of the company and revert to being a group of people who will support people who need it in the art world.

“We left the Queen Street police station quite quickly so there was no decent opportunity to move to at that point.”

He added: “One thing we’ve found is that storage is exceptionally expensive but we are pleased to see the town centre is regenerating itself.

“The business centre [which has opened in the former police station] is quite the hub really.

“The idea is still there, that we are here to help new artists get started. That was why we were created in the first place - that’s our roots.”

Since the group was formed, in 2010, as well as the Queen Street based, it has had homes in what is now Specsavers, in Long Wyre Street, the former Shoeworld, in Queen Street and the former Co-op headquarters, in Eld Lane.

Mr Clarke added: “Colchester, even small parts of Colchester, has more creativity in it than the whole of Essex so I have no doubt the group will continue as it has and will continue to signpost people when they need it.”

The director also said volunteers’ lives had changed a lot since 2010, with many now employed, either having been previously unemployed or studying.

Mr Clarke also called for Firstsite to become more supportive of local artists.

He added: “[Interim director of Firstsite] Anthony Roberts demonstrated Firstsite’s ability to link with the community and I have no doubt with the new people in charge, it will be followed up.”

Dorian Kelly, a group member but not a director, added: “It is a huge shame as it is the last of the town’s grassroots groups shutting down.

“Of course, it is nobody’s fault. Colchester is quite a booming place now and the buildings we would have taken over just aren’t available anymore.”

To get in touch with the group, email colchesterslackers@gmail.com or search Facebook for ‘Slackspace Colchester’.