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High House Artists' Studios win RIBA East Awards


High House Artists’ Studios was selected as one of 10 winners of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) East Regional Awards at an awards celebration at Downing College, Cambridge on Thursday 10 April. Architects HAT Projects also won Emerging Architect of the Year and High House Production Park won Client of the Year for its role in development of the artists’ studios. The scheme will now be put forward to the RIBA National Awards in June.

The £1.8m new-build complex of 43 affordable studios and work/live units at High House Production Park in Thurrock opened in July 2013 and was developed by HAT Projects in close collaboration with operator Acme Studios. The design drew the aesthetic of the anonymous industrial buildings traditionally occupied by artists and built on Acme’s extensive research into the needs of artists. The aim was to make the spaces as functional and flexible as possible rather than making a self-consciously ‘creative’ building.

The project was funded by High House Production Park Ltd and Art Council England’s capital fund and was driven by the need for affordable space in the area. The RIBA judges were impressed by the “elegantly rational composition” of the building and the “extraordinarily economical scheme” which delivers high-quality workspace to rent from as little as £20 a week.

Acme Studios’ Chief Executive Jonathan Harvey said, “A great deal of passion and attention to detail was put into the development of High House Artists’ Studios. It was a challenge to create a high-quality, flexible building that was suitable for a wide range of fine artist practice and at the same time remain affordable to artists. It is a huge credit to HAT Projects that this was achieved with significant architectural merit which has been rightly recognised by the judges.”

Artist selected for inaugural Rita Harris Studio Award


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 Harvey, 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.

Hackney Residency artist David Murphy at PEER


David Murphy - Certain Impacts

27 March to 17 May 2014
Opening Wednesday 26 March from 6 to 8pm

FREE gallery talk: Saturday 29 March 4pm Helen Pheby, Senior Curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in conversation with David Murphy. Click here to reserve a place.

Hackney Studio Residency artist David Murphy will be showing recent drawings and sculpture at PEER from 27 March to 17 May. Certain Impacts is David’s first solo show in London and is a presentation of recent drawings and sculpture. These two elements of his practice are a parallel and complementary activity rather than a developmental progression of two-dimensional study to final realisation in three dimensions.

‘From architecture to anthropology, tool-making to trade routes, my practice takes up aspects of inherently human activity that begin with the hand.’ David Murphy

The work at PEER was produced while Murphy was the recipient of the Hackney Studio Residency from October 2012 – March 2014 based at Acme Studios’ new-build Matchmakers Wharf artists’ studios on the site of the Lesney Matchbox Toys Factory in Homerton. The 18-month residency included a large rent-free studio, £10,000 bursary and support and mentoring from the partners involved: Acme, PEER and Hackney Council’s Cultural Development Team. The residency was
first and foremost an opportunity for David to develop his studio practice, while also exploring the history of the site and the people associated with it.

Maaike Anne Stevens at the Acme Project Space


Black Sea is an exhibition of new work by Maaike Anne Stevens at the Acme Project Space. Utilising moving image, text, print and sculptural forms, Maaike creates a friction between time and events, both real and supposed. The port city of Odessa, on the Black Sea acts as a point of enquiry for Maaike who has spent a period of time researching the rich synthesis of historical events and narratives that surround the sea and the city. The resulting work acts as an exploration of the transitional state between personal drives and appropriated behavioural patterns, set within a landscape marked by Facebook posts and age-old rocks.

21 March - 20 April

1pm to 6pm Thursday to Sunday

Private View: Thursday 20 March, 6pm to 8pm

Chadwell Award

Sculpture-Performance: Acme Artists Now


Sculpture-Performance: Acme Artists Now is a series of events exploring the interface between performance and sculpture, drawing on the work of artists who showed at The Acme Gallery (1976-1981).

Between March and June 2014, four separate monthly events will feature new work from 10 artists who showed at The Acme Gallery or whose work was influenced by it. The curators and producers of this project, Aaron Williamson and Kate Mahony, will also contribute new work along with other collaborators.

Aaron Williamson is the recipient of the Stephen Cripps' Studio Award at High House Artists' Studios. Sculpture-Performance complements Aaron's public work, The Living Studio, an ongoing piece which sees the studio as the work and Aaron as its operative, creating transient sculptural works through performative processes. 

15 March
Alastair MacLennan - SAG (Single Action Group) Collective formed by Aaron Williamson. Featuring: Jack Catling, Jenna Finch, Kate Mahony, Jordan McKenzie, Simon Raven, Holly Slingsby, Lili Spain and Daniella Valz Gen

17 May
Anne Bean - Steve Beresford & Alan Tomlinson - Brian Catling - Chana Dubinski - Tina Keane - Kate Mahony

14 June
Bobby Baker - Julian Maynard Smith - Geraldine Pilgrim - Aaron Williamson

Each event will run from 2pm to 6pm in Studio 005, High House Artists' Studios, High House Production Park, Purfleet, Essex, RM19 1AS.
No booking required.

For more information visit:

Acme Artists' Films at the Whitechapel


Thursday 20 February

7pm - 9pm

Booking essential (Tickets: £8.50/£6.50 concessions)

The Whitechapel Gallery is hosting Acme Artists’ Films, a programme of screenings of work made by artist tenants of short-life housing managed by Acme between 1972 and 1982. Acme was pioneering in many ways, and not least for the way it supported artists working with experimental moving images, both through the provision of houses and studios and at the Acme Gallery in Covent Garden (1976-81). The special programme of rarely seen works will showcase titles in their original 16mm format by artists John du Cane, Gill Eatherley, Ron Haselden, Annabel Nicolson, Ken McMullen and William Raban.

For more information see:

The screening will be followed by a Q&A, featuring Jonathan Harvey, co-founder and chief executive of Acme Studios, Ken McMullen and William Raban.


Whitechapel Gallery

Supporting Artists: Acme's First Decade 1972 -1982

Pat Matthews Gallery (Gallery 4)

7 September 2013 - 23 February 2014

Sophie Jodoin at the Acme Project Space


Current recipient of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) six-month London studio residency, Sophie Jodoin, will be exhibiting how permanent is permanent, a minimalist installation of works created and selected for the Acme Project Space

This new series of annotated found book pages, works on paper, photographs, and a large-scale charcoal and pastel drawing of an immense boulder, presents quiet investigations into time and stillness. The disparate elements cohere in an austere set of voices and an ambiguous visual narrative. Each work functions as a word pulled into a complex foreboding repository of loss and memories.

21 February - 2 March 2014

1pm to 6pm Thursday to Sunday

Private View: Thursday 20 February 6pm to 8pm

Acme International Residency Programme - Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ)

Royal visit to artists' studios


The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall toured Acme’s High House Artists’ Studios yesterday as part of a visit to High House Production Park in Purfleet. After talking with artists Anna Masters, Lata Upadhyaya, Sue Cooper and Heidi Cooper, Prince Charles and Camilla visited two artists at work in their studios. The royal party was met by Acme Residency and Awards Manager Julia Lancaster and Chief Executive Jonathan Harvey who gave a background to Acme Studios. Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award holder Aaron Williamson discussed his ‘Living Studio’ project while Philip Melling demonstrated how he works with metal to create his sculptures. The morning-long visit, led by Royal Opera House Chief Executive Alex Beard and HHPP Chief Executive Andrea Stark, also included a tour of the National Skills Academy’s Backstage Centre and the Royal Opera House’s Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop.

Acme IRP Manager joins Res Artis Board


Lea O’Loughlin, Acme Studios International Residencies Programme Manager, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Res Artis, the Worldwide Network of Artists residencies (

Res Artis is an association of over 480 centres, organisations and individuals in over 70 countries which promotes the role of residential art programmes as a vital part of the contemporary arts world.

Since 2008 Lea O'Loughlin has managed Acme Studios International Residencies Programme (Acme IRP), working with international artists and liaising with governments and foundations to maximise their investment in London cultural residencies. Acme IRP is committed to developing international partnerships and providing best practice residency experiences for artists in London.

Lea says of her appointment, “I am delighted by the opportunity to join the board at Res Artis and look forward to working with our member organisations. I hope to bring my experience of building strong and sustainable relationships between residency funders, visiting artists and a wide cross-section of communities into this international arena.”

Final few weeks of Acme Studios' show at the Whitechapel Gallery


‘Supporting Artists: Acme’s First Decade 1972 -1982’ at the Pat Matthews Gallery (Gallery 4), Whitechapel Gallery, closes on 23 February. Featuring original documents and photographs from Acme’s archives, as well as material contributed by artists who had houses and studios at the time, the exhibition explores the history of Acme and the legendary Acme Gallery in Covent Garden (1976–1981).

‘Acme Artists’ Films’ is a retrospective programme of screenings by Acme artists showing important work made in the first 10 years of the organisation. The event on 20 February includes an artists’ Q&A and can be booked via the Whitechapel’s website:

To complement the exhibition, Acme commissioned have artist filmmaker William Raban to make an hour-long film which responds to Acme’s archive. ‘72-82’ combines archive material with interviews with artists who had houses or studios, or who presented work at the Acme Gallery. The film will be premiered in October 2014.

Following the end of the Whitechapel exhibition, the archive will return to Acme where it will be available to view by appointment. We are currently digitising parts of the archive to make it a permanent, accessible resource. For more information, contact Jack Fortescue, Communications Officer

Acme and Central St Martins' KTP research published


A paper on a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Acme Studios and Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design has been published in the International Journal of Arts in Society. ‘The Form and Function of the Artist Studio’, written by KTP Associate Dr Arantxa Echarte, outlines in detail the nature of the research project and its outcomes which benefit both Acme and Central Saint Martins. As Arantxa concludes: “This research has provided Acme with a better and more in-depth understanding of their beneficiaries’ needs, and this will ensure that it continues to provide and manage studios that meet the changing needs of artists at affordable prices.”

‘The Form and Function of the Artist Studio’ is available in print or online at:

A publication presenting the work and outcomes of the KTP research and development project will be launched at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in October. This will include material collected as part of the project’s research methodology – interviews with artists, and an extensive photographic essay of artists’ studios by Hugo Glendinning – and feature the development of new-build studios at High House Production Park, Purfleet, Essex, designed by HAT Projects, which was directly informed by a detailed brief resulting from the KTP. The publication will also present examples of ongoing collaborative projects between the partners which begin to address the needs of recent graduates, including the Associate Studio Programme at Acme’s studios at The Glassyard Building in Stockwell, London SW9.

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