Acme Studios, supporting art and artists since 1972


RCA Curating Contemporary Art MA

‘Planta: Notes on Botanical Dissidence’ 8.5.2015 - 24.5.2015

Milou van der Maaden, Tell it to the plants (work in progress), 2015
Milou van der Maaden, Tell it to the plants (work in progress), 2015


Thursday to Sunday 1pm to 6pm

Private View: Thursday 7 May, 6pm to 8pm

Students from the Royal College of Art Curating Contemporary Art MA present Planta: Notes on Botanical Dissidence at the Acme Project Space as part of an ongoing partnership between the Royal College of Art and Acme Studios' Residency & Awards Programme. The group show is an investigation into the conceptual potential of plants, often silently present but frequently neglected in the overarching discourses of history. The work of Milou van der Maaden, recipient of the Adrian Carruthers Studio Award, provided a catalyst for the project; in her pieces, plants emerge as both props and prompts, linking the ‘here’ of the artwork with the ‘elsewhere’ of the complex and conflicted legacies of the Dutch-Indonesian colonial past.

The display is premised on the investigative model of note-taking and includes works by artists who explore questions ranging from the symbolic power of plants, to their associations with labour and exploitation, corporate greenwashing and financial commodification, as well as the subtle visual allure and the dangers associated with plants as mobile, migrating beings.

The exhibition also features a new work by van der Maaden especially commissioned for the show called Tell it to the plants (2015), which addresses the parallels between the botanical and the human body, instrumentalised by science at the service of intelligence forces. Van der Maaden uses the research of CIA agent Cleve Backster around the notion of “primary perception” in plants, subverting his interrogation tactics to urge the audience to engage with issues of silence and speech, contested histories and their re-animation in the present.

A publication, produced to accompany the exhibition, will function as an expanded research notebook on the questions raised by the show.

Curated by Inês Geraldes Cardoso, Grace Storey.



Acme Project Space

44 Bonner Road
E2 9JS
020 8981 6811
F 020 8983 0567

Acme Project Space is located in the heart of East London's gallery district, around the corner from The Approach and a short walk from Vyner Street. The venue is well served by public transport:

  • Underground - Bethnal Green (Central Line)
  • Train - Cambridge Heath
  • Bus - D3 & 309
  • Car - On street pay and display parking (unrestricted at weekends)


Journey Planner


The Acme Project Space provides an opportunity for those artists who are part of our Residency & Awards Programme and our International Residencies Programme with a public space within which to develop projects, show new work and engage in a critical dialogue with a wider audience.

The programme of projects and exhibitions is developed in collaboration with those individual artists, who have already been through a selection process and aims to highlight the benefit artists gain from this support. The Acme Project Space therefore, is not currently able to accept unsolicited exhibition proposals from other artists.

Access and facilities

There is level and ramped access throughout the Acme Project Space. All printed material is available in a range of formats, please contact or 020 8981 6811 for further information. There are no public toilet facilities on site.




Duncan Pickstock

‘Are we there yet?’ 26.3.2015 - 26.4.2015

Duncan Pickstock, Picture 1/15, 2014, 160cm x 180cm
Duncan Pickstock, Picture 1/15, 2014, 160cm x 180cm
Duncan Pickstock, Painting 4/5, 2015, 145cms X 145cms
Duncan Pickstock, Painting 2/5, 2015, 145cms X 145cms
Duncan Pickstock, Painting 7/4, 2014, 150cms X 160cms
Duncan Pickstock, Painting 3/5, 2015, 145cms X 155cms


Thursday to Sunday 1pm to 6pm

Private View: Thursday 2 April, 6pm to 9pm

Duncan Pickstock, the inaugural recipient of the Rita Harris Studio Award, presents a solo exhibition of paintings made during his year on the award.

Pickstock’s large-scale paintings are an attempt to move on, to move forward and closer to a state of resolve, towards a harmonious conclusion, that is always the goal but one that he accepts is unachievable. Painting is then a journey for Pickstock, a journey that the artist sets out on knowing that the destination, this arrival at a state of resolution, will never be reached.

Despite this, and along the way, the paintings through their juxtapositioning of form, construction and layers of colour and chiaroscuro, maintain a sense of place or shelter that ultimately reassures the viewer that no matter how aspirational the journey might be, the desire to survive is the greater force in answering the visual and vital questions each painting poses.

Pickstock’s investigation often encompasses a preoccupation with layers of paint and how the application and the removal of paint, to and from the canvas, can alter the viewer’s perception of depth, distance and dimension. Through these formal tools Pickstock explores the tension that exists between something that is neither representational nor abstract; that refers to elements of the world around us but refuses to illustrate them.

Accompanying full colour catalogue, with essay written by Paul O' Kane (Artist, Writer & Lecturer) will be available. Designed, printed and supported by Tom Clark and Printhouse Corporation.

Duncan Pickstock is the first recipient of the Rita Harris Studio Award. The award commemorates the life and work of Rita Harris who died in 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. She worked with Jonathan at The Acme Gallery (1976-1981) in Covent Garden.

The biennial award, which alternates with the Jessica Wilkes Studio Award, is supported by Jonathan, Acme, friends and family. It provides an artist with a free studio to enable them to devote more of their time to their studio practice. Worth £10,000, the award is made to an artist selected from applications from current Acme studio holders.


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

Between 1996 and 2012 Acme received £3.2m of capital funding from Arts Council England which supported the creation of six permanent affordable studios in London: Copperfield Road, Fire Station, Galleria, Harrow Road, Leven Road and Matchmakers Wharf. This resulted in 186 studios and 12 work/live units in four London boroughs.