Why I’ve been living in other people’s houses for six weeks

by Matt Weatherall, Founder of loose change, lost dogs, and a social enterprise in-the-making called Launch Pad.

Not a stock photo for “student leaving home”.

Since moving to London five years ago, I’ve navigated the city’s housing crisis by living in warehouses, backpackers hostels, and a boat.

Recently, after a sleepless week in my favourite hostel, I met my mentor for our monthly chat. He took one look at my tired face and invited me to look after his flat while he went on holiday.

If London was a hotel, I’d just been upgraded to the penthouse suite after sleeping in the revolving door. One week I was sharing a bunkbed with boozy backpackers, the next I had the keys to a one-bed in posh Putney.

I had the space to create, to dream, to breathe, to do, to be.

And that gave me an idea.

The artist residency. Reimagined.

“Young artists that might have thought of coming here no longer do because they can’t afford to live in London.” — Tate Director, Nicholas Serota

Traditionally, patrons have supported artists with time and space in an inspiring place to explore ideas and develop their creative practice. These opportunities are called artist residencies.

“The time is ripe to open up a new wave of giving to the city’s arts and culture. Public money alone isn’t sufficient, and is increasingly scarce in these straitened times.” — London Mayor, Sadiq Khan

The idea: Live/work studios that pop up in homes while owners are away. It’s a pop-up artist residency that I’m calling Launch Pad.

I shared the idea on Facebook at the beginning of April. Since then, five different people have given me the keys to their pad while they’re away so that I can focus on building Launch Pad.

And that’s why I’ve been living in other people’s homes for six weeks.

In the next blog post, I’ll write about how each home and host has inspired me and accelerated Launch Pad.

Until then, I’m looking for a new host to join the launch crew. If you’re going away for a week, a month, or even a few days, and you’d like to host me, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll use the time in London and space in your place to continue working on Launch Pad. Be in touch hello [at] popuplaunchpad.com