SPACE Artist Awardees

February 2021

SPACE awarded 20 x £5,000 bursaries to talented visual artists who were under-represented in the art world and those suffering from extreme financial hardship, to help them invest in their future at this challenging time. 

The awards were aimed at individuals in their first 10 years of practice, whose ethnicity, disability or socio-economic background may have affected their career advancement. All the awardees lived or worked in the boroughs surrounding SPACE’s 20 studio buildings, including Southwark, Hackney, Islington, Redbridge, Greenwich, Newham and Colchester. 

Awards and Support

  • 20 artists were awarded £5,000 to support the next stage of their practice; 
  • 3 of the artists additionally each received a 12 month rent free studio; 
  • 4 of the artists additionally were invited to advise on and help shape SPACE’s public programme;
  • 9 artists benefitted from a one-month residency in The Studio at SPACE Ilford, an interview profile and Instagram takeover.

All awardees received 1-2-1 mentoring sessions arranged by SPACE’s Artist Development team, as well as a group mentoring session with John Akomfrah.

The Artist Awardees are:

Abbas Zahedi

Adjoa Armah      

Alaa Alsaraji

Christy Burdock

Dene Leigh


Eugene Macki

Gaby Sahhar 

Grace Harper

Kathryn Graham

Lydia Julien

Michael Taiwo

Mitch Vowles

Olga Grotova

Reman Sadani

Ross Hammond

Sikelela Owen

Sogand Bahram

Steph Francis-Shanahan

Tobi Alexandra Falade

Members of the selection panel said:

“It was a thrilling challenge to work with SPACE to help select the recipients of the SPACE Artist Awards. The breadth of the artistic practices presented was electrifying, clearly demonstrating the necessity for initiatives that seek to open up the door to artists from a broader range of backgrounds and experiences. In an institutional field where systemic inequity continues to create symptomatic division between minority communities, it is a humbling privilege to be able to dedicate time to supporting voices who otherwise may remain isolated. I hope that this might be the first of many more inclusive initiatives by SPACE, whose commitment to supporting creative practitioners in the UK continues to be as pioneering as ever.”

Dr Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Trustee, SPACE (Chair: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) 

“Thank you to SPACE and the team for fundraising and administering these crucial Artists Awards that support and connect artists from different backgrounds and generations, from across social, political, and cultural borders. To the artists, thank you for your time and generosity in sharing your practices and lived experiences with us.”

Deborah Smith, Director, Arts Council Collection

Anna Harding, SPACE CEO, said: “We decided that an important way to contribute to resilience of the visual arts sector is by investing in talented artists who are excluded and under-represented. We are grateful for support from Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund which SPACE is using directly to support artists, without whom there would be no arts sector.”

Read about the impact of the programme here.