POLICE are still holding 18 painters detained from the artists' colony just outside Beijing in a raid at the weekend. Neighbours said dozens of police descended on the capital's Bohemian enclave near Beijing University on Friday night rounding up 17 men and one woman. 'They did not have a list of names but just grabbed anyone who had long hair or looked like an artist,' a resident said. Neighbours said they were taken to the Shahe detention centre. The artists are now detained as a matter of course whenever Beijing hosts an important meeting or celebrates a politically sensitive anniversary. A few of the colony's resident artists, anticipating a sweep, left the city before the weekend's National Day celebrations. One of those who evaded capture said he had been arrested twice this year. On the last occasion he was sent to a mental hospital for three days. Many others, who made their reputations in the colony, have abandoned it because they are tired of police harassment. Police often confiscate the artists' work and materials. 'They haven't committed any crime, they are just artists. A Communist country should support its talented people,' one resident said. The colony's low-rent peasant houses have been turned into studios for 100 avant-garde and traditional painters, sculptors and musicians. Many rely on selling their work to foreigners. However, the English-language signs which used to guide visitors to the various studios have been taken down because the police often rely on them to arrest the owners.