Acme, supporting artists since 1972

Stephen Cripps' Studio Award at High House Production Park

A partnership award funded by Acme, The Henry Moore Foundation, High House Production Park Ltd and family


Hilary Powell: 2016/17

Artist, filmmaker and gleaner, Hilary Powell has spent the last year exploring the landscapes and narratives of Purfleet as part of Acme's Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award. She is now preparing to present 'Ring Cycle' an audio visual symphony of greed and hope that transposes an epic cast of gods and mortals into this contemporary Thameside landscape.

The launch screening of Ring Cycle, with live score, takes place on Friday 14th July at 6.25pm at High House Production Park. It is presented as a prelude to the Big Screen relay of the opera Turandot organised by Royal Opera House Thurrock and the Backstage Centre.

From her studio in the midst of tanker docks and fenced-off storage depots, Powell has assembled a flotsam and jetsam sound studio of chalk, reeds and scrap metal. Drawing on the tradition of ‘foley’, the use of found materials to create sound effects for radio and TV, Powell takes this typically backstage art and presents it as a live performance. Collaborating with composer Kieron Maguire and involving local sound artists and singers from Thurrock - many of whom perform in the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus - this live soundtrack recreates the swoosh of wind turbines and the cries of birds, bringing the film to vivid life.



The Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award is a major creative development opportunity. It provides a resource and support structure from which artists can 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, not only celebrates the work of Stephen Cripps, an important ‘pyrotechnic sculptor’, but also helps make 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 programme consists of three one-year awards, running from October 2013 to August 2017. Each award provides:

  • a rent-free large ground-floor ‘production’ studio
  • a £10,000 bursary
  • £10,000 towards project realisation costs.

To ensure that as many artists as possible in the UK will be able to benefit from the award, the selected artist may also opt to rent a work/live space within the studio building during the award year.

The Award is funded by Acme Studios, The Henry Moore Foundation, High House Production Park Ltd and Stephen Cripps's family.

The first award ran for one year from 1 October 2013 to 30 September 2014. The second will run from 1 November 2014 to 31 October 2015. The third and final award will run from 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2017.


Rita Evans:


Rita Evans was selected for the second Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award by a panel comprising Anne Bean, artist; Jonathan Harvey, Chief Executive of Acme Studios; Ron Haselden, artist; and Mark Spink, Assistant Head of Scenic Art at the Royal Opera House.

Rita plans to spend an increasing amount of time in the studio over the 12 months. Rita explains that:

“The studio will be imagined as a nerve centre, with part of it as a place for dreaming, thinking and conversation, with spontaneous sketches and plans emerging and developing from this engagement. The other part will act as the rest of the body, a kinaesthetic making space, where these plans will be transferred into time-based sensorial sculptures and performances.”

Rita concluded her year-long award with Brain Drain, a series of sculptures and drawings (in progress), and Trance Party, a site-specific 'electro-acoustic' instrument/sculpture and party:


Aaron Williamson: 


Performance sculptor Aaron Williamson was selected for the inaugural Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award. Aaron Williamson was selected by a panel comprising Jonathan Harvey, Chief Executive Acme Studios; Ingrid Swenson, Director PEER; Emma Troubridge, Head of Scenic Art Royal Opera House and Richard Wilson, artist.

Richard Wilson: “Aaron’s convincing interview showed not only his commitment to the High House Production Park site, connecting with its neighbours and his fellow artists but also adopting the spirit of Stephen Cripps and his approach to working.”

Aaron opted to rent a work/live space within the studio building during the award year. His proposal for the award was to maintain a year-long, ever-evolving 'living studio' that can be visited at any time by appointment. Aaron explains, “In this, the studio itself is the work with myself as its operative, creating transient sculptural works through performative processes.”

In addition, Aaron secured Arts Council England Grants for the arts funding for Sculpture-Performanace: Acme Artists Now a series of events exploring the interface between Performance and Sculpture, drawing on the milieu around the Acme Gallery from 1976-1982. Full details of the Living Studio and Sculpture-Performance can be found on a dedicated website:



Rehearsals for Ring Cycle by Hilary Powel.
Rehearsals for Ring Cycle by Hilary Powel.
Rita Evans in the Stephen Cripps' Studio working on Wool Matrix. Photo: Rita Evans (2014)
'The Living Studio' by Aaron Williamson in the Stephen Cripps' Studio. Photo: Hugo Glendinning (2014)
Stephen Cripps '8 in 4 Days' The Acme Gallery, London, 1978. Photo: Ally Raftery
Stephen Cripps 'Cripps at the Acme: Drawings & Performances' The Acme Gallery, London, 1980. Photo: Rita Harris/Jonathan Harvey



Ringcycle Rehearsals 14th June

Rehearsals for Ring Cycle in the Stephen Cripps' Award Studio

Rehearsals for Ring Cycle in the Stephen Cripps' Award Studio

Residency Partners: The Henry Moore Foundation and High House Production Park

Residency Partners: The Henry Moore Foundation and High House Production Park

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