LEFT Rita Harris at work in her studio at Robinson Road, E3. Photo: Edward Woodman (1983). RIGHT 'Large Landscape Painting 1' by Duncan Pickstock, 185cms x 185cms, 2013.
Duncan Pickstock has been selected for the inaugural Rita Harris Studio Award (2014-15). He will receive a grant of £10,000, which will cover his studio rent for one year with the balance paid as a bursary. Duncan will also be offered an exhibition at the Acme Project Space and the opportunity for studio visits by other artists and professionals.
The Rita Harris Studio Award commemorates the life and work of Rita Harris who died of cancer in May 2013. Rita was an artist and a master of T’ai Chi, which she taught for over 20 years. She was married to Jonathan Harvey, Acme’s Chief Executive and co-founder, and they had been together since 1978. She worked with Jonathan at The Acme Gallery (1976-1981) in Covent Garden.
The award is supported by Jonathan, Acme, friends and family and is made to an artist selected from applications from current Acme studio tenants. Duncan Pickstock was selected by a panel comprising Jonathan, Begonia Tamarit (animator and close friend of Rita) and Julia Lancaster (Residency & Projects Manager, Acme Studios).
Duncan’s practice is concerned with the process of painting, exploring the tension between the representational and the purely abstract. He had an Acme studio at Robinson Road in Bethnal Green for 18 years before moving to Acme’s new-build Matchmakers Wharf studios in Homerton in 2012. Duncan has exhibited internationally and at various spaces in London. His most recent painting show was part of The Open Sky Museum, Nantes, France last year. The two works exhibited are now part of the collection of Musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes.
Speaking about the award, Duncan said, “The award will give me time and security. To have the luxury of a sustained period of uninterrupted work, freed from the constant worry of having to find the rent each month will be incredibly beneficial.”
The Rita Harris award is made every other year and alternates with the Jessica Wilkes Award which has been enormously successful, making a significant difference to the life and work of each of the four recipient artists to date. Jessica and Rita were close friends, so it is especially appropriate that these two commemorative awards alternate as companions to each other; Rita’s award could not be based on a better model.