Bull © Dorcas Casey

ACS Studio Prize 2021 Winner

The ACS Studio Prize returned in 2021 to offer one student or recent graduate a £4,500 Prize to help fund an artist's studio for a year.

In what was another particularly difficult year for students, graduates and the artistic community, the need for support was reflected in the large number of submissions - students from more than 60 universities, throughout the UK and European Economic Area (EEA) applied for the 2021 Prize.


The fifth annual Prize was judged by contemporary artist Bob and Roberta Smith OBE RA and ACS member and painter Paul Huxley RA, alongside ACS Managing Director Lady Bridgeman CBE.


Following an in-depth day of judging 27 shortlisted artists, the 2021 Prize was awarded to Dorcas Casey, who completed an MA Multidisciplinary Printmaking at the University of the West of England Bristol in 2019. Spanning sculpture, costumes, banners and community projects, Casey’s work explores the representational, detailed and often disconcerting nature of dreams, stories and memory. On what winning the Prize would mean to her, Casey explained: “A studio space [would offer] me room to make ambitious large-scale work, giving me the freedom to develop my practice in exciting new directions. A space provides me with the opportunity to create dynamic crossovers between materials, by working on multiple pieces simultaneously.”


Paul Huxley said: “I like Dorcas’ work because what I look for in art is something that has metamorphosed, that has changed. Whether it’s painting or sculpting, I like to see things – the components they are made from – that do something extra when put together you do not expect them to do, so that two and two don’t make four, they make five.”


Bob and Roberta Smith: “The ACS Studio Prize is a generous prize which will help a young artist to lay down the roots of a professional career. Dorcas’ practice is to do with ideas about the planet and evolution. Dorcas makes work where art and science cross over. They are a kind of image that everyone might be shocked by, but crucially intrigued by. A very original voice.”


Alongside winner Dorcas Casey, four finalists were also chosen by the judges: Habib Hajallie, Helena García Hermida, Joe Bucklow and Niamh Birch.


Find out more about the finalists below:


Habib Hajallie

Habib Hajallie draws inspiration from his Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage. Through the exploration of identity, Hajallie aims to convey a sense of empowerment to marginalised minorities. The artist graduated from Loughborough University with a BA Fine Art in 2017.

Helena García Hermida

Helena García Hermida is a Spanish figurative painter whose practice combines elements of pictorial research and traditional Chinese painting techniques. García Hermida completed a BFA at the Complutense University of Madrid before traveling to Chengdu, China, to study for an MFA in Traditional Chinese Painting at Sichuan University. 

Joe Bucklow

Joe Bucklow fuses imagination, memory, personal photographic sources and film stills to produce paintings reminiscent of theatrical and cinematic scenes. Based in North Yorkshire, Bucklow studied History at University of Glasgow before completing an MA Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Art School in 2019.

Niamh Birch

Niamh Birch references humourous still life within domestic settings in her paintings. Birch graduated with a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Arts Practice from Bath Spa University in 2019 and is currently based in London.