Acme, supporting artists since 1972


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Acme Turns 40


On 9 November 1972, a group of seven recent graduates, led by Jonathan Harvey and David Panton, registered as ‘Acme Housing Association’ with the sole aim of providing artists with much-needed cheap studio and living accommodation. From the early pioneering years of using short-life houses to create a vital resource for artists in the geographical heart of East London, Acme has grown to become the leading charitable property agency for artists in the UK, with a permanent portfolio of high-quality studio and work/live buildings.

During the anniversary year (from November 2012) there will be a series of events and activities, including the opening of 100 new studios in three further buildings, new residencies and awards, a film and website artist commissions. The year will culminate in an archive display of material from Acme’s first decade (1972-1982) in association with the Whitechapel Gallery. Acme is inviting anyone who had an Acme house, exhibited at The Acme Gallery, or rented a studio at Acre Lane, SW2 or Robinson Road, E2 during Acme’s first decade to contact us on It would be very good to hear from you and we would welcome any material from that time which would help expand the depth and richness of our existing archive.

Acme’s relationship with artists is founded on the principle of arms-length support that trusts artists to make the best of our investment in their creative risk-taking. Over the past 40 years, the provision of affordable space has not only enabled artists to pursue their practice, but for many Acme’s support has acted as a springboard to achieving international recognition.

We are grateful to all those who have supported us in our achievements and look forward to continued success, supporting artists, in the future.

Roger Kite 'Pathways'


'Pathways’ at the Acme Project Space, traces Roger Kite’s work from 1976 to the present and forms part of Acme Studios’ 40th anniversary calendar of events. Roger joined the organisation as our housing manager in 1978 and at the end of next year will be leaving Acme to pursue his practice full time.

This show not only celebrates Roger’s work but also the strong and enduring relationships that Acme has enjoyed with its staff and ex-staff over many years. Mirroring his 34-year relationship with Acme, ‘Pathways’ does not attempt to provide a comprehensive survey of Roger’s work, but rather a glimpse of a journey of discovery.

17 November – 16 December 2012

1pm to 6pm Thursday to Sunday or by appointment

Private View: Sunday 18 November 12 noon to 4pm


Joss Cole 'What's Outside the Window?'


Joss Cole’s work reflects his understanding of specific places and events, transforming the meaning of poetic source material into paintings. This exhibition consists of paintings dealing with three subject matters, poetic myth, debate/analysis, and images of old hats/old ideas, all linked by the idea of creative epiphany. Working in these varied subject matters, Joss investigates the way formal explorations can change and shift the symbolic meaning of representational imagery. By overlapping elements within the paintings, mediums, materials, wood, loose washes of watercolour, among other techniques, he attempts to create a collective atmosphere.

Joss graduated with an MA from Wimbledon College of Art last year. This exhibition marks the end of his Chadwell Award (2011-2012) and shows a body of work created during the year-long residency.

Acme Project Space

25.10.12 - 11.11.12

Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays - 1pm to 6pm

Fridays - 1pm to 8pm

Private view: 26 October, 6pm to 8pm

New artists' studios open on site of former toys factory


On 25th September Acme Studios celebrated the opening of its latest new-build studio project at Matchmakers Wharf, E9, with an event for invited guests. The 49 affordable studios form part of a major mixed-use development secured in partnership with Telford Homes Plc.

The occasion marked the culmination of Acme’s capital development programme (2006-12) supported by Arts Council England’s Grants for the arts – capital fund, the establishment of the Hackney Studio Residency and the launch of our 40th Anniversary Year.

We were joined by guest speakers Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, London, Arts Council England; Jules Pipe, Mayor, London Borough of Hackney and John Fitzgerald, Joint Group Managing Director, Telford Homes Plc. Following the speeches, guests toured the studios and met many of the artists who work there.

David Murphy was welcomed as the first artist selected for the Hackney Studio Residency, an 18-month project which will explore and celebrate the site’s former use as the Lesney Matchbox Toys factory.

Our new bulletin 'Securing the Future – Celebrating the Past', the theme of our 40th anniversary year, was published to coincide with the event and can be downloaded below.

Luke McCreadie 'Blob-content'


Luke McCreadie, the tenth recipient of the Adrian Carruthers Award, opens a solo show ‘Blob-content’ at the Acme Project Space on 5 October.

This long-running award provides a selected graduate from Slade School of Art artist with a large, rent-free studio alongside three other graduate award holders in Acme’s Childers Street studios in Deptford. The recipient also receives a £5,000 bursary, mentoring and the opportunity to exhibit.

‘Blob-content’ uses mainly sculpture and film to investigate the role of object and subject. Luke has transformed the Acme Project Space with a large body of work he has created during his time on the residency.

5 October – 21 October

Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays – 1pm to 6pm
Fridays – 1pm to 8pm

Private view: 4 October, 7pm to 9pm


One thing after another...


An open event to celebrate the completion of four artists' year-long studio residencies.

JOSIE COCKRAM - Camberwell Studio Award
JOSS COLE - Chadwell Studio Award
ANNA MODERATO - Chelsea Studio Award
LUKE MCCREADIE - Adrian Carruthers Award

Saturday 29 September
2pm - 8pm

The artists will open their studios and show work which reflects the development of their individual practice during the residency but also acts to recognise each others influence, a kind of 'chain reaction' across the four residency studios.

Acme Studios, Studios 99-101, 165 Childers Street, London, SE8 5JR

Map -

Acme leaves lasting impression on Russian artist


Acme Studios has helped over 5,000 artists since it was founded 40 years ago. For many this support came at an important stage of their lives or development of their practice and no more so than Oleg Kudryashov.

Oleg left the Soviet Union in 1974 and arrived in London with his wife via refugee camps in Austria and Italy. With few friends, little money and none of his artwork, Oleg was put in touch with Acme Housing Association, as Acme was then known. The minutes of the board meeting in 1974 show that their ‘special circumstances’ meant ‘necessitous queue jumping’ and they were almost immediately given a short-life house in Bow and, when that was demolished, another in South London.

Oleg began working again and met with other artists including many leading and ‘conceptual’ artists of the time. In September 1976 he had a solo show at the newly-opened Acme Gallery in Covent Garden. Acme gallery director Jonathan Harvey remembers that they only had a handful of words in common, including ‘problem’ and ‘vodka’, but this did not prevent a lively creative collaboration. The exhibition was a success and received a positive critical response, including Marina (now Lady) Vaizey’s warm review in the Sunday Times: ‘It all has a singular, disturbing emotional force, the more powerful as it is the more suggestive.’

Now 80, Oleg has returned to live in Russia where he was welcomed as a culture-hero. In 1999, he had a retrospective exhibition at the Tretyakov State Museum in Moscow and the following year he was awarded the Russian State Art and Literature Prize.

A retrospective of his work curated by Edward Lucie-Smith and Sergei Reviakin entitled ‘Freedom Inside Yourself’ at Bermondsey Project will be opened by Lady Vaizey on 13 September 2012. The exhibition will give London audiences the opportunity to once again see work by one of the 20th century’s leading print-makers.

Exhibition: 14 to 30 September 2012; Thursday to Sunday, 12 noon to 6 p.m.

The Bermondsey Project: Unit 7, 46 Willow Walk, London SE1 5SF

Kate Atkin 'Like A Stone'


One of the 12 artists currently on Acme's Fire Station Work/Live Residency Programme 4, Kate Atkin's forthcoming exhibition of drawings and sculptures ‘Like A Stone’ at the Acme Project Space is the result of over twelve months of ‘hard labour’, in every sense of the word. Atkin's use of the humble graphite pencil is transcended to monumental proportions through large-scale detailed drawings. The inanimate objects which are the subject of Atkin's scrutiny are scaled up out of proportion and transposed onto plywood or solid aluminium. Hours are spent cutting, sanding, filing and de-burring, resulting in seemingly impossibly weighty, detailed, but with no attempt to disguise their fakery, representations of those objects.

‘Like A Stone’, Atkin's second solo show in London, refers to a memory her father had as a child, of meticulously building a model aeroplane over some considerable time. On proudly and excitedly launching it for the first time in his back yard, his father only exclaimed ‘like a stone!', inferring that a stone launched in the same way would ‘fly’ just as well.

The works Atkin has produced as a result are nothing short of extraordinary and despite their epic manufacture are posed in the project space with a monumental beauty.

The Fire Station Work/Live Residency Programme Four (2010-2015) provides low-cost combined working and living units for 12 selected artists for five years. The work/live programme provides breathing space, allowing artists to concentrate on the development of their work by greatly reducing or removing other practical and economic pressures. Since the programme began in 1997, over fifty artists have benefitted from work/live residencies at the Fire Station.

This exhibition is in association with Trinity Contemporary Gallery.

Bursaries and rent-free studios for award-winning graduates


Four recent graduates have been selected for year-long awards provided by Acme Studios in partnership with a range of institutions and individuals. Each graduate will receive a large, rent-free studio and a cash bursary. All four artists will be based at Acme’s Childers Street studios in Deptford, SE8 and will receive professional mentoring and opportunities to exhibit their work.

Acme was founded by graduate artists in 1972 and is acutely aware of the challenges facing artists once they leave college. For over ten years Acme has been supporting graduates with rent-free studios, professional support and, importantly, bursaries which provide the artist with time to make best use of their studio space. The number of awards has grown over recent years and Acme is working with a number of new partners to develop and extend this critical area of support.

The artists selected for graduate awards this year are:

  • Ninna Bohn Pederson from the Slade School of Art has been selected for the Adrian Carruthers Award.
  • Renee Odjidja from Camberwell College of Arts has been selected for the Camberwell Studio Award.
  • Maaike Anne Stevens from Goldsmiths College, University of London has been selected for the Chadwell Award.
  • Rafal Zajko from Chelsea College of Art and Design has been selected for the Chelsea Studio Award.

Funding for the awards comes from Acme Studios, participating colleges, private benefactors, grants and donations. They form part of Acme Studios’ Residency, Awards and Community Programme, one of the most extensive and direct means of support to artists in the UK.

Publication marks 25 years of international artists' residencies in London


Acme Studios celebrated 25 years of hosting international artists’ residencies in London with the launch of a publication on 28 June at London’s City Hall. The publication highlights current programme partners and features a selection of some of the 360 artists who have benefitted from major work/live residencies in the capital. 

The launch was an opportunity for Acme to celebrate the achievements of the programme which currently supports 24 artists annually with each spending between three and 12 months working and living in East London. 

Guests were welcomed by Acme founders and directors Jonathan Harvey and David Panton, who presented an overview of Acme’s International Residencies Programme (IRP). Guest speaker Pierre Boulanger, Agent General of the Quebec office in London, spoke about their successful partnership with Acme, while artist Helen Pynor reflected on her recent Australian Council for the Arts funded residency experience. 

Ambassadors, cultural leaders, curators and artists were present for the launch of the publication which is available to download here.

The publication explores the history of Acme IRP including its purpose, need and evolution and illustrates how the international residency programmes can offer life-changing experiences for artists, as well as promoting vital cultural exchange and significant inward investment. 

Lea O’Loughlin, Acme IRP Manager explains, ‘The publication allows us to highlight our work and thank our partners for their long-term commitment to sending artists to London. The first 25 years have been fantastic and we are looking forward to working with new partners as we continue to expand our programmes.’

Erica Seccombe - NANOPLASTICA



Thursday 21 - Saturday 23 June, 2012

PV Thursday 21 June, 6-9 pm


So Far, The Future
44 Emerald Street
London, WC1N 3LH
44 (0)20 7998 0199


Nanoplastica addresses authenticity, replication and simulation of the natural world. What we are observing in Nanoplastica is the actual volumetric data of a series of miniature plastic marine and invertebrate creatures, collectable children’s toys from a commercial brand of chocolate. In real life these plastic objects are no bigger than three centimeters long, individually scanned in 3D using frontier Microcomputer Tomograph X-ray technology.

Brightly translucent, we wonder if these creatures are biological or an evolved, advanced technological organism. As we try to establish an understanding through a pre-ordered knowledge, Nanoplastica anchors us for a fleeting moment in our own time, and, as the moment passes, we allow ourselves to wonder at the unknown, and contemplate future possibilities. Nanoplastica is motivated by the artist’s continuing curiosity about the way contemporary microscopy imaging technology has influenced the visualisation of the structure of matter. Placed in context of the age of digital enhancement and information saturation, Erica’s work explores the challenges we face interpreting this visual data, which is now presented to us on a daily basis.

Erica Seccombe is an Australian visual artist living and working in Canberra and a current PhD candidate at the Australian National University School of Art. A recipient of the 2010 Synapse funding through ANAT, she was for a year, Visiting Fellow in the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics on an artistic residency. She has been working with scientists in the Department’s 3D Microcomputed Tomography X-ray Facility since 2006 and has created three major bodies of work as part of her Nanoplastica project. Her focus is the visualisation and animation of complex datasets, looking at the influence of scientific technology on visual media and contemporary art. Erica is currently undertaking an Australia Council for the Arts London Studio Residency, managed by Acme Studios International Residencies Programme.

Helene Lord - Infinite City


June 7-12, 2012

First Thursday Private View: June 7, 6-9pm

Vyner Street Gallery
21-23 Vyner Street
London, E2 9DG

Gallery Hours:
Monday-Friday 11am - 6pm
Saturday-Sunday 11am - 5pm

“Walking through the city everyday, I quickly realised it would be impossible for me to fully grasp its immensity, density and diversity. Since I was only able to see it in fragments, I decided not to try to represent the city, but instead lose myself in its rhythm, flow and ever-changing nature. Here, at the heart of the city, I merely observe and draw the passing of time. Between reality and fiction, I map out these routes, conveying only segments of what I saw and felt. This sensory and emotional experience made way for a series of watercolour drawings, illustrating and outlining everyday’s reach.”

During her residency in London, Hélène Lord has observed her journeys through the city by drawing paths – her very footsteps and mobility have been translated into a mosaic of small watercolour motifs, delicately layered on sheets of paper and placed side by side to evoke the divisions one can observe when looking at a map. Infinite City is a mural installation that reassembles fragments from these daily walks, meshing the city’s reality with the artist’s imaginary.


Major opportunity for artist in Hackney


Acme Studios’ new Hackney Studio Residency will provide a selected artist with a significant opportunity to develop a project or projects with a free studio space for 18 months (worth £7,500) and a bursary of £10,000.

The award runs from October 2012 to March 2014 and is based at Acme’s new studio building at Matchmakers Wharf, Homerton, E9, located on the site of the former Lesney Matchbox Toys Factory. The factory, which opened in the mid-60s, was an important landmark building for the area not least because Lesney was one of the largest employers in Hackney.

Acme is seeking an artist who will engage with the former use of the site, and the people associated with it, as the artist’s principal ‘subject matter’. The residency is an opportunity for an artist who wishes to develop or extend their practice to embrace and reflect the context and the communities in which the studio is located.

The artist will benefit from the support of the partners, Hackney Cultural Development team and the Hackney-based independent arts organisation, PEER, who will also provide professional support to the artist as appropriate.

There is more information and an online application form at:

Application deadline: 5pm Friday 29 June 2012 - Interviews: Thursday 26 July 2012

George Charman at the Acme Project Space


George Charman, one of 12 artists on Acme's Fire Station Work/Live Programme, presents his solo show 'Once Again And Always New' at Acme Project Space from 5 - 27 May.

Charman’s work explores modularity, abstraction and notions of dwelling relating to the perspectival and metaphysical properties of architectural space. His new body of sculptural works on display at the Acme Project Space are influenced by the repetitious detail and geometric qualities evident within the work of writer Alain Robbe-Grillet. The work playfully subverts the structural qualities and material makeup of objects in search of a slippage of association that releases the object from a specific space or situation.

Describing his work, George explains his attempt 'to invoke a state of latency that suspends the desire for instant recognition of things in favour of a more speculative examining of the properties and possibilities of objects'.

5.5.12 - 27.5.12

Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays - 1pm to 6pm

Fridays - 1pm to 8pm

Private view: 4 May, 6pm to 8pm

Sara MacKillop selected for three-year Fire Station Residency


Acme Studios is delighted to announce that Sara MacKillop has been selected for a three-year work/live residency at the Fire Station which begins 1 March 2012 and runs until February 2015. The residency came about as a result of an artist leaving Programme 4 to take up another opportunity elsewhere. Sara was selected from an open submission by an interview panel of Jonathan Harvey, Acme Studios Chief Executive and Hannah Rickards, external artist. Sara's practice involves subtle sculptural objects and artist books. She will join 11 other artists on Programme 4 of the one of the most directly supportive schemes for artists in the United Kingdom, providing combined studio and living space at low rents:

Programme 4 (2010 - 2015): Briony Anderson, Kate Atkin, Jonathan Baldock, George Charman, Melanie Clifford, Susan Corke, Robin Footitt, Sara MacKillop, Haroon Mirza, Matthew Noel-Tod, David Osbaldeston and Emma Smith.


Pioneering research into artists' studios


The two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership research project between Acme Studios and Central Saint Martins is providing invaluable insights into the role and form of the artist's studio to support Acme’s work. The project is being undertaken by Dr Arantxa Echarte, an artist and academic based with Acme full-time.

A newsletter has been published to highlight recent activity including in-depth interviews and photographs of over 30 artists, photographic documentation mapping the changing use of studios over time and seminars with current students at Central Saint Martins looking at their perceived studio needs on graduation.

'One eye! Two eyes! Three Eyes!' at the Acme Project Space


As part of a three-month Associate Artist Residency, Indian artist Vishwa Shroff has been exploring London's nooks and crannies, our way of life and the peculiarities of our language. Working primarily from diaries and sketchbooks, she constantly observes her environment, often focusing on the mundane and trivial to explore the idiosyncrasies that are particular to each environment she inhabits. ‘One eye! Two eyes! Three Eyes!’ is her first solo exhibition in London, where she will exhibit her findings as a site-specific drawing installation.

‘On most days, we seem to take our immediate surroundings for granted or merely ignore them. Trees, birds, landscapes, billboards, architecture, the sound of traffic, music and much more become but a mere backdrop to our activity. We stop looking, stop noticing them and sometimes don’t even realise their existence until they change in some way. This project aims to bring interest to just that, the otherwise ignored, and hopes that by bringing attention to one such aspect, it can become a catalyst to evoke a narrative.’
-Vishwa Shroff, February 2012

Vishwa Shroff ‘One eye! Two eyes! Three Eyes!’

2.3.12 – 11.3.12
Thursday-Sunday, 1pm - 6pm

Private view: 1 March 2012, 6pm – 8pm

Acme Project Space
44 Bonner Road
London E2 9JS
T 020 8981 6811

Major boost for long-running award for graduate artists


Acme Studios is delighted to announce that a major donation has secured the future of the Adrian Carruthers Award.

Initiators and long-time supporters of the award, Sir Colin Lucas and Mary Louise Hume (step-father and mother of Adrian Carruthers), have made a significant donation to which The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided a matching gift. This significantly increases the fund which has been secured to date. Acme Studios is committed to making this valuable award an enduring one, and these generous contribution mean that the award is assured for the foreseeable future.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the award which was created by friends and family in memory of artist Adrian Carruthers, a former Acme tenant and graduate of the Slade School of Art, who died in October 2001 at the age of 40. The current recipient of the Adrian Carruthers Award is sculptor Luke McCreadie.

The annual award provides a selected student from the Slade School of Art, University College London with a £5,000 bursary and a large, purpose-designed studio rent-free for a year. To date 15 artists have benefited from this award which has provided a successful model for other graduate awards. Acme currently provides awards for four graduates at its Childers Street building in Deptford, each with a cash bursary and rent-free studio space.

The Adrian Carruthers Award froms part of Acme's Residency, Awards and Community Programme.

'Dead Metaphor' at the Acme Project Space


A new exhibition at the Acme Project Space consisting of a series of silk hangings that have been dyed and painted, their subject matter ranging from loom threads to early computer punch-cards to women modelling soviet silk couture. Artist Helen Johnson explains the title of her exhibition, ‘The dead metaphor is not something that has ceased to be, but something that has been rendered invisible through continuous use - taken as read, as with the outcomes of industrialisation.’ 

Helen is in London on a three-month Australia Council for the Arts residency managed by Acme Studios.

The exhibition runs from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 January from 1pm to 6pm, with a private view on Wednesday 25 January from 6pm to 8pm.

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National Housing Federation member | NFASP member | Supported using public funding by Arts Council England