The latest winners of the UK Loewe Foundation/Studio Voltaire Award have been announced, giving seven recipients a bursary of £5,000 and rent-free studio space in South London for a two-year period.
The winners of the second edition—Babajide Brian, Maz Murray, Emily Pope, Shamica Ruddock, Meera Shakti Osborne, Nick Smith and Ossie Williams—will move into studios at Studio Voltaire in Clapham from September for two years, joining a community of artists encompassing Lubna Chowdhary, Kaye Donachie and Anthea Hamilton.
Osborne, a youth worker from North London, focuses on “questions around history-making, and the ethics of collaboration”. Murray works across film and performance using melodrama and humour to discuss queer and trans identity.
Murray tells The Art Newspaper: “[My] work haphazardly charts the creation of artificial landscapes, from New Towns and shopping centres to queer spaces and imagined utopias, and the struggles that shape them.” A show of their work is due to launch next year at Focal Point Gallery in Southend.
Murray adds: “I think the award is important because studio space, much like any other type of renting, is prohibitively expensive under our current system which limits the kind of art working class, underclass, and basically anyone without independent or familial wealth, can make. It's also cool that there will be a cohort of us in the studios, rather than the award just being for one person.” According to a 2018 report by Create London and Arts Emergency, just 18.2% of people in the arts are from working-class backgrounds.
Studio Voltaire received more than 600 applications, highlighting that “the level of need amongst artists is more pronounced than ever” during the cost-of-living crisis, says Maggie Matić, Curator (Studios & Residencies) at Studio Voltaire. In 2021, Studio Voltaire, the not-for-profit art space housed in a former Victorian Methodist chapel in Clapham, reopened following a £2.8m revamp.
The Loewe Foundation/Studio Voltaire Award was launched in 2021 when recipients included the Singaporean-born photographer Josiah Moktar and London-based Ufuoma Essi who presented a new film commission at Gasworks in London last year.