Art Prizes for New Graduates

Two Edinburgh College of Art students have been awarded 12-month studio residencies by the Artists’ Collecting Society after being judged on their Degree Show work.

The ACS, a non-profit organisation formed in 2006, are dedicated to the collection of Artist’s Resale. After recognising the economic challenges of emerging artists, they established awards offering grants that contribute to the cost of artist’s studios in the UK.

Eleanor McCullogh with her degree show work
Eleanor McCullogh with her degree show work

This year, for the first time, ACS partnered with ECA to offer two students a fully funded 12-month residency at a studio of their choice.

Eleanor McCullogh, who studied Fine Art, and Alex Weir, a graduate of Painting, were both awarded the Studio Prize. Not only is this a fantastic accolade, but the award has a lasting effect, with the money going towards a working space that they can make use of now that they have finished their studies.

Alex was awarded the prize based on his Degree Show exhibition, Smex Cafe, an interactive installation where he converted an ECA studio space into a multi-coloured, art-stocked cafe.

“The idea was to alter perceptions of ‘painting’ and change the way that visitors see artworks and interact with an exhibition,” he says, “whilst simultaneously creating a fun and accessible space for everyone.”

Alex Weir in his artwork Smex Cafe
Alex transformed his studio space into an interactive cafe

Alex also says the award will really benefit his plans to continue work of a similar theme: “I know how difficult it is for graduating artists to find studio spaces and continue producing work after leaving university, so I am very grateful to be able to work in a studio alongside other artists – something I would not have been able to do so soon without this award.”

Eleanor practices in a variety of mediums and her work is concerned with originality and replication. She describes her approaches as being “from the seemingly arbitrary idiom ‘the Real McCoy’ to imitation butter, the sculptor’s plinth to the picture postcard, my work explores the cultural narratives and artistic legacy of the copy.”

Eleanor also has great appreciation of the award and says that he prize goes further than the studio itself:

“For me the ACS Award means more than just a studio, it means financial stability, creative independence and, most importantly, the luxury of time to make. It also means I am able to maintain the momentum gained over the past five years at ECA, remain part of the supportive creative community within Edinburgh, and make use of the wonderful workshops and facilities the city has to offer.”

Kimberley Ahmet from the Artists’ Collecting Society is enthused by the collaboration.

She said: “We at the Artists’ Collecting Society are delighted to be working with the University of Edinburgh to present the inaugural Artists’ Collecting Society Studio Prize. The financial cost and difficulty of securing studio space are very real concerns for many graduates as they make the transition from student to professional. We are delighted that we can assist with this.

We were very excited by the quality of applicants. Indeed, it made choosing the winners a difficult task. This year’s winners, Eleanor and Alex, are extremely talented artists and we are excited to see how their careers develop.”

Edinburgh College of Art