Acme, supporting artists since 1972

Previous Projects

Acme Studios works with individuals and organisations to increase the number and variety of opportunities for artists. Some of these partnerships result in one-off projects, whereas others become part of our established Residency & Awards Programme.


Jessica Wilkes Studio Award and Rita Harris Studio Award

Acme celebrates 30 years of its International Residencies Programme and 25 years of the UK residencies and awards in 2017. We think this is a good moment to take stock and review our programmes with the aim of evaluating different types of interventions and drawing lessons for how we can best support artists over the coming 10-20 years.

The review means we have put some awards on pause, including two awards aimed specifically at Acme tenants - the Jessica Wilkes Studio Award and the Rita Harris Studio Award, both of which came about through generous legacy funding which has now ended.

An Acme tenant award will be reintroduced in 2019.


Stephen Cripps' Studio Award

The Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award was a major creative development opportunity which provided a resource and support structure from which artists could develop their practice and realise and present planned or new projects.

The award, based at new-build, purpose-designed studios at High House Production Park, Thurrock, celebrated the work of Stephen Cripps, an important ‘pyrotechnic sculptor’, but also helped to manifest the vision for the Park and the potential for creative collaboration between its partners: High House Production Park Ltd, the Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop, the National Skills Academy Creative & Cultural Backstage Training Centre and Acme Studios. The Award was funded by Acme Studios, The Henry Moore Foundation, High House Production Park Ltd and Stephen Cripps's family.

The programme consisted of three one-year awards, running from October 2013 to August 2017. The three selected artists were: Hilary Powell (2016/2017), Rita Evans (2014/2015) and Aaron Williamson (2013/2014).


Curating Contemporary Art MA Royal College of Art

In 2009 Acme Studios approached the Royal College of Art, Inspire MA, Curating Contemporary Art (CCA) course to explore how the use of the Acme Project Space would both benefit the expanding number of artists on Acme awards or residencies and support the aims of this innovative course by providing a platform for these young curators to develop ideas.

Over six years, students curated exhibitions at the Acme Project Space following studio visits to artists on Acme's Residency and Awards Programme:

2014-15 ‘Planta: Notes on Botanical Dissidence’

2013-14 'DELVE'

2012-13 'Adjacent Practice Colliding Daily'

2011 - 2012 'In Use'

2010 - 2011 'Sum Parts'

2009 - 2010 'Contort Yourself'


Camberwell Studio Award

In 2010, Acme Studios began discussions with Camberwell College of Arts about ways of continuing to support graduating artists. From the outset, the college recognised the enormous value of this kind of opportunity and committed support for a 12-month award, covering half the cost of a studio and providing a bursary. This continued until October 2014.

The selected artist shared a large self-contained studio with the recipient of the Chelsea Studio Award. Both these awards are designed for BA fine art graduates and it was hoped that sharing would reduce any sense of isolation which may be experienced away from the college environment and ease the transition from art college to establishing a studio practice.

The three selected artists were: Josie Cockram (2011/12), Renee Odjidja (2012/2013) and Sandra Lane (2013/2014).

Hackney Studio Residency

The Lesney Matchbox Toys Factory, which had occupied the Matchmakers Wharf site, was an enormously significant landmark building and local employer. Our approach was to invest in an artist to bring the history, and the lives of the people associated with the site, to life. To do this we established a new artist residency, the Hackney Studio Residency, based on our successful programmes in Southwark and Tower Hamlets.

The eighteen-month residency, which ran from October 2012 to March 2014, was based in a ground-floor studio at the entrance to the main development, and provided a free studio (worth £7,500) and a bursary of £10,000. The programme was a collaboration with our partners, Hackney Council’s Cultural Development Team and the Hackney-based independent arts organisation, PEER, who provided additional professional support and mentoring to the artist as well as a solo exhibition.

The panel representing the partners, selected David Murphy an artist who lives and works in Hackney. He graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2006 and has since exhibited and travelled widely. David's residency culminated with an exhibition 'Certain Impacts' at PEER in spring 2014, his first solo show in London and was a presentation of drawings and sculpture created during the 18-month award.

Chadwell Award

The Chadwell Award was established by Andrew Post and Mary Aylmer, philanthropist art collectors, in memory of Andrew’s mother and aimed to provide a bridge between art school and practice as a professional artist. Acme Studios was approached by Andrew and Mary in 2009 and was delighted to support the award.

A recent art MA graduate receives a rent-free studio at Childers Street, SE8 for a year, together with a bursary of £5,000 jointly funded by Acme together with professional mentoring. The award was offered to students who are about to complete post graduate courses, and will target different institutions from one year to the next. In the first year (2010-2011), the award was offered to students at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. The 2011-12 award was offered to students at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design and Wimbledon College of Art and in 2012-13 Goldsmiths, University of London.

For the period 2013/14 the award continued to support the previous years recipient Maaike Anne Stevens. Following this and due to a change of priorities the award ceased it’s partnership with Acme in September 2014.

The three selected artists were: Sarah Poots (2010/11), Joss Cole (2011/2012) and Maaike Anne Stevens (2012/2013).


Bow Cross Artist Residency

Acme Studios, in partnership with the Swan Foundation, established a 12-month residency for an artist to develop a project or projects centred on Bow Cross, a large residential estate undergoing major regeneration. The partners believe that by investing in an artist and supporting a process of consultation, participation and collaboration with local residents, work will emerge which will have meaning and value both for local people and for the artist involved.

Artist, filmmaker and photographer Simon Terrill was selected from an open submission and began his residency in December 2010. Simon received a bursary of £10,000 with a total project budget of £15,000. Simon was supported throughout the residency by Acme Studios and via regular stakeholders meetings.

Following meetings, ongoing interventions, open invitations and a number of events over the months of the residency, on 10 September 2011 the residents of Bow Cross were invited to take part in a large-scale photographic 'portrait' amidst film lighting, smoke machines and an ice cream truck. While the stage was set, the participants were free to choose how and where they wished to present themselves within the final image.

Large colour photographs of the event are now on permanent display at the Bow Cross Community Centre, Rainhill Way, Bow, E3 3EY. Alongside the photographs, a video work extends this captured event into a flight past friends, families and neighbours as they fill the street from dusk until nightfall, anticipating the next frame.


Acme/WASPS Exchange

Acme has a long relationship with the major artists' studios provider in Scotland, WASPS. In addition to providing affordable studios, both organisations manage work/live spaces. Working in partnership to create a residency exchange in a work/live unit allowed artists in WASPS studios the opportunity to visit London and artists in Acme studios the opportunity to visit Scotland.

In August 2010 and Maggie Lill was selected for a one-month residency at WASPS’ Steeple in Newburgh, Fife. Acme covered the rent on Maggie’s London studio and provided £250 towards travel expenses.

In January/February 2010. Moray Hillary was selected, along with collaborator Agnes Nedregard, to spend two months at Acme’s Fire Station work/live programme in East London. Moray and Agnes exhibited at the Acme Project Space in May 2011. Their show 'Entrances' featured installations and live performance.


Southwark Studio Residency

Established in 2006 at the Galleria in Peckham, the residency was awarded to Southwark-based artists, who received a rent-free studio (worth £5,200) for 18 months, plus a cash stipend of £10,000. The programme was supported by three key agencies: Acme Studios, Southwark Council and the South London Gallery.

K Yoland was the third recipient of the Southwark Studio Residency which ran from October 2010 to March 2012. Yoland explained, ‘The Acme studio is perfect for my multi-disciplinary approach, I am very appreciative of the opportunity to have space to make and plan my work. I now feel that there is more flexibility to experiment and challenge the limits of each project.’

Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre was the second artist to be awarded the Southwark Studio Residency. Her residency began in January 2008 and ran until July 2009. Ana Laura undertook a research project: 'Night Time in Southwark' consisting of events, walks, interventions and conversations, exploring night time as both a location for making and showing art, and as a conceptual framework for dialogue. The culmination of Ana Laura's residency was 'Night Time' a collection of essays, poems, photos and artwork by Ana Laura and the people of Southwark.

Southwark's first residency artist - composer, songwriter, performer and sound artist Isa Suarez - began her residency in April 2006. Working with groups including Southwark Pensioners Centre, Southwark Refugee Centre, The Marroons and The Music Project at Charterhouse in Southwark, Isa collaborated with local groups and individuals, exploring the theme of human rights in everyday life.


Tower Hamlets Studio Residency

As part of our new-build studios in Leven Road, London, E14, Acme offered a rent-free studio residency worth £7,000 for two years plus a grant of £10,000 a year to an artist living or working in London.

The residency was an opportunity for an artist involved with socially-engaged practice to develop significant relationships, through their work, with local residents and the wider community. It also offered a significant financial and practical breathing space, allowing an artist to focus on the development of their practice.

Jan Hendrickse, an artist working with sound and visual references from London, was chosen as the artist in residence at Leven Road. Jan developed his own practice and worked with local residents and community groups to explore the acoustic ecology of East London, employing listening as a way of exploring the sonic environment.

Jan marked the culmination of his residency with 'Transient' a sound and video installation exhibition at the Acme Project Space. During his residency, Jan created a sound piece for 'Contort Yourself' an exhibition at the Acme Project Space and worked with local people as part of the Teviot Arts Festival. 



The UNEARTHED exhibition and archive sought to reveal the cultural history of the Carpenters Road artists' studios in the former Yardley’s perfume factory, which used to be on the site of the London 2012 Aquatics Centre. These studios were managed by Acme and home to 500 artists between 1985 and 2001.

As the Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA) Artist in Residence on the Olympic Park, Neville Gabie become aware that most people involved have little or no idea of the history of the area prior to the Park being built. It is variously described as having been a ‘derelict wasteland’ or a ‘brownfield site’. Before its history of having supported the largest studio complex in Europe is completely lost, the motivation was to explore the creative impact of those studios.

In September 2011, an exhibition of work from 68 artists who previously had a studio at Carpenters Road was shown at Warton House, E15 Yardley’s former offices which is currently being converted into new studios for Acme, creating a permanent artist presence in the area when they open in June 2013. 


The Sugar House Work/Live Programme

In 2002 Acme began a work/live residency programme in a former sugar warehouse in Stratford, E14.

Like the Fire Station, the Sugar House work/live residency project was designed in response to the lack of affordable space in London for artists to work and live in. The units were situated on the first and second floors of the building.

The project was developed in partnership with Solon Co-operative Housing Services and the Boss Group and received funding from the Housing Corporation and Stratford Development Partnership.

Eight artists were selected from a national submission to take up the first work/live residencies, ending in February 2007: Neil Exeter, Louisa Fairclough, James Fisher, James Grant, Al Holmes, Brigid McCleer, Gail Pickering and Akiko Usami.

Other artists subsequently joined the programme as the original artists took up opportunities elsewhere. These were: Ruth Caig, Ignaz Cassar, Max Goodchild, Jenny Hamblett, Harold Offeh, Jochen Holz, Tania Rowlings and David Smith. 

The building was returned in 2011 as part of a large-scale redevelopment of the site by LandLease.


John Jones Artist in Residence

Acme helped John Jones establish their first artist in residence in February 2009, when Tower Hamlets Studio Residency holder, Jan Hendrickse, became the first recipient of the award. Jan worked with staff to capture the sounds of the factory and create new ways of re-interpreting sounds, both visually and aurally. The residency resulted in a public performance as part of John Jones' Spring Art Party. 


Sarah Greengrass Memorial Award

Sarah Greengrass died from cancer in August 2004, aged 51. Sarah joined Acme Studios in 1976 as our housing assistant, whilst at the same time continuing to practice as an artist. She left in 2002 when her condition was diagnosed. In 2005, to commemorate her and the support she gave other artists, a grant of £2,000 was made to Kate Broad, one of the artists taking up a five-year work/live residency at the Fire Station. Sarah made an immense contribution to Acme and the award provided support for an artist in economic need at a key stage in her career.

Installation shot of Sandra Lane's show at BEARSPACE September 2014. Image: Sandra Lane (2014)

Installation shot of Sandra Lane's show at BEARSPACE September 2014. Image: Sandra Lane (2014)

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director Arts Council England; Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney and David Murphy, Hackney Studio Residency Artist. Photo: Greg Goodale (2012)

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director Arts Council England; Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney and David Murphy, Hackney Studio Residency Artist. Photo: Greg Goodale (2012)

Joss Cole in the Chadwell Studio at Childers Street, SE8. Photo: Julia Lancaster (2011)

Joss Cole in the Chadwell Studio at Childers Street, SE8. Photo: Julia Lancaster (2011)

Extract from Bow Cross publication by Simon Terrill.

Extract from Bow Cross publication by Simon Terrill.

'Entrances' at the Acme Project Space. Photo: Acme Studios (2011)

'Entrances' at the Acme Project Space. Photo: Acme Studios (2011)

Southwark Studio Residency artist Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre at her publication launch at Camberwell Space. Photo: Franco la Russa (2009)

Southwark Studio Residency artist Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre at her publication launch at Camberwell Space. Photo: Franco la Russa (2009)

Jan Hendrickse and local residents at the official opening of Leven Road. Photo: Greg Goodale (2009)

Jan Hendrickse and local residents at the official opening of Leven Road. Photo: Greg Goodale (2009)

UNEARTHED archive exhibition at Warton House, E15. Photo: Acme Studios (2011)

UNEARTHED archive exhibition at Warton House, E15. Photo: Acme Studios (2011)

Jan Hendrickse' installation as part of the John Jones Artist in Residence. Photo: Samatha Wood (2009)

Jan Hendrickse' installation as part of the John Jones Artist in Residence. Photo: Samatha Wood (2009)

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