Brixton is where I am supposed to be

Tamara Barton-Campbell discovered Brixton and moved in to work and live here. Simone Richardson finds out how and why

Tamara Barton-Campbell
Photo by Selene Shaw

Today, Tamara Barton-Campbell is executive producer and creative director at Renaissance Studios on Tunstall Road in the heart of Brixton.

Until four years ago, aside from passing through on her way from West London to see grandparents in Forest Hill, or to buy hair and skin care products, she had not been to Brixton.

Then she visited, fell in love with Brixton, and moved here to live and work.

Renaissance is a multi-disciplinary studio with services for content creation. It also offers free online clinic for young creatives, supported by Arts Council England.

“We celebrate culture and a global human experience,” says Tamara. “Our in-house studio is available to hire, operating as a blank canvas for creatives to bring their ideas to life.

“I was based in Soho or Shoreditch for so long and Brixton was beginning to resemble those places, however, Brixton felt familiar.

“It has its own flair and vibrancy and I no longer stood out. In fact, I blended in nicely.

“I started to look at how I could make Brixton a permanent place to live and work.

“I remember speaking to a friend at the time about renting a studio space. Within a month of that conversation we were up and running.”

Tamara now lives a few minutes’ walk away from her workplace.

How did she get into the creative industries?

“At 11 years old I was scouted to be part of a project called YCTV (Youth Cable Television) set up by Sabrina Guinness which provided creative opportunities for young people in film and TV.

“I was taught all aspects of the industry by experts and met people like Danny DeVito, Harrison Ford and Ruby Wax.”

Tamara briefly moved into retail when she felt her creativity had dried up at the age of 24. 

But she wanted to go ‘‘somewhere I was happy’’, so she began 13 years of employment in the film and TV industry at companies including RDF Television, where she worked on programmes like The Secret Millionaire and Shipwrecked.

Renaissance Studios came next.

team of women
The Renaissance Studios team (l-r) senior producer  Charlene Campbell, operations manager  Kelechi Ehenulo, founder and creative director Tamara Barton-Campbell, brand designer Marssaie Jordan, and Photographer Selene Shaw
Photo by Selene Shaw

“I wanted to tell new stories that reflected my experiences as well as reflect the world I know – a world of “multi-inclusion” I am proud to be a part of,” Tamara says.

“I found there was a lack of these types of stories in the industry – an ongoing problem.

“I know Brixton is where I am supposed to be and I am being the difference I want to be through Renaissance Studios and the work we create.’’

Although her visits to Brixton had been fleeting until she took up residence here, she does have a connection with one of the spiritual pillars of Brixton, David Bowie.

Meeting Bowie and his wife Iman at YCTV when she was 14 years had a big impact.

“I was given the opportunity to interview David Bowie and his wife Iman and on that day David Bowie asked me and my sister Serene to sing backing vocals on his album Outside.”

Her daily reminder of that meeting is passing the Bowie mural at the top of Tunstall Road on the way to her studio.

Clinic for young creatives

Renaissance is more than just a studio. It has launched a clinic for young creatives, a free online creative masterclass and wellbeing sessions for 18 to 34-year-olds, designed to help them on their creative journey. The schemes is supported by Arts Council England.

panel discussion
A clinic for young creatives cinematography panel discussion with Director of Photography Ian Mann (left) and  Lloyd Anarfi from Foolish Professionals hosted live by Shaiyann Fairweather from Renaissance Studios in Brixton

Courses include workshops and panel discussion as well as wellbeing sessions.

“We had the idea for the Creative Clinic earlier on in the year,” says Tamara.

“The Film and TV Charity released a report stating that 87% of people in the creative industry/s suffered from mental health related issues, including bullying and isolation.

“Myself and my team were not surprised by these figures as we have been affected by some of these issues personally and wanted to do something about it.

“The Creative Clinic is one of our contributions to creating an inclusive industry for the next generation of leaders,” says Tamara, who wants to extend the skills of the studio to the local community.

“We are used to working with local talent and have worked with young creatives like Kyra Campbell, Ayo Adegun, Roiesha Boothe and Ramone Watson, who have all gone onto cement themselves in creative careers.’’

Renaissance Studio is full of life with female energy. Senior producer Charlene bakes scones every day to be consumed with rooibos tea.

Looking to the future, Tamara says “Renaissance means rebirth, and we embody this in all we do

“Our goals are to continue to tell stories that are true to our experiences

“We are here for the culture, and Brixton invites us to be inspired by the people and places.’’

Details of the Creative Clinic on the Renaissance website or from 020 7733 1537