‘Rent free’ is a term most can only dream of – particular in the current cliamte – but for a quartet of fledgling artists, that’s exactly the kick back they are getting in the Square Mile.
Four early-career artists have triumphed in the Studiomakers Prize, winning rent-free workspace in the heart of the City to help make kickstart their creative careers.
The Studiomakers Prize is part of a new collaboration between the City of London Corporation, which provided £110,000 in funding, and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.
Abi Palmer, Leily Moghtader Mojdehi, Luning Yang, and Yifan He, whose work spans painting, sculpture, and robotic installations, have moved into their studios in Byward Street, where they will be able to work gratis for the next nine months.
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, Wendy Hyde, said: “Having their own rent-free studio space in our culturally vibrant Square Mile is a superb opportunity for these four artists at a pivotal point in their careers.”
The artists were selected from, among others, Slade School of Fine Art and Goldsmiths University by an expert panel of judges comprising independent curator and writer, Fatoş Üstek; Director of Vital Arts, Catsou Roberts; and curator and Members Programme Coordinator at SET Studios, Ellie Dobbs.
Co-Directors and Trustees of Outset Contemporary Art Fund, Candida Gertler OBE and Nicolette Cavaleros, said: “Our sincerest gratitude goes to our fruitful partnership with the City of London Corporation, whose grant funding has enabled us to relaunch the Prize, move into the heart of our capital, and support its Destination City aims to redefine the City as an important proposition to the creative and cultural industries.”
Organisers say the initiative has been conceived to power the creative industries, supporting efforts to make the City an attractive destination for artists.
Judges of the City of London Studiomakers Prize, Fatoş Üstek, Ellie Dobbs, and Catsou Roberts, said: “We believe that the four successful applicants will have a productive exchange with one another, and we are very excited to see their practices grow over the next nine months.”
Artist Abi Palmer said she felt lucky to have been given a break this early on in her career.
“It’s actually really hard to find a studio near my home that’s both physically and financially accessible – the CoL x Outset Studiomakers Prize gives me a space to expand on technical aspects of my practice as I work towards more ambitious and sustainable installation, sculpture and film. I feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.”
Leily Moghtader Mojdehi added: “The CoL X Outset Studiomakers Prize has given me the security of having a space to develop my practice, which in nature needs a workspace to exist and mature. I believe working in a shared space can ignite experimentation with mediums, techniques and methods; thus, I am excited to work amongst the other prize-winners, and learn from their differing practices.”
Meanwhile, Luning Yang said they were looking forward to collaborating with their fellow artists.
“The nine-month studio bursary awarded by the CoL x Outset Studiomakers Prize allows me to keep developing work in London with other talented artists. I’m really looking forward to making more sculptures in the studio.”
Artist Yifan He said: “CoL x Outset Studiomakers Prize gives me the space and structure to further develop my practice, especially exploring the ways to make kinetic installations and soft robots. I am excited to become part of a diverse community of artists. I look forward to making new connections and perhaps forging collaborations!”