Iguana © 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 secure studio space in a UK city of their choice.

Five finalists were chosen from a national open competition which attracted close to 300 art students and recent graduates, from 65 universities.


This year’s Prize was judged by artists Paul Huxley RA and Bob and Roberta Smith RA, alongside ACS Managing Director Harriet Bridgeman CBE. During an in-depth day of judging, the panel deliberated over a shortlist of 27 artists from the UK and Europe, before unanimously awarding the Prize to Dorcas Casey.


Spanning sculpture, costumes, banners and community projects, Casey’s work explores the representational, detailed and often disconcerting nature of dreams, stories and memory.


Judges Bob and Roberta Smith and Paul Huxley said of Casey’s practice:
“The winner of the ACS Studio Prize gets a wonderful opportunity [to give] 100% of their time to their work. A room of one’s own, a place for intense work as well as the opposite, the all too important time for reverie.”


“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.” – Paul Huxley


“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.” – Bob and Roberta Smith.


Four finalists were also chosen from the 27 shortlisted artists: Habib Hajallie of Loughborough University, Helena García Hermida of Sichuan University, Joe Bucklow of City & Guilds of London Art School and Niahm Birch of Bath Spa University.


Find out more about the finalists below:


Habib Hajallie

Habib Hajallie finds inspiration in his Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage, which feeds directly into the artist’s drawing practice.

Joe Bucklow

Joe Bucklow’s work fuses imagination, memory, personal photographic sources and film stills to produce paintings reminiscent of theatrical and cinematic scenes.

Niamh Birch

Working in a variety of media, Niamh Birch’s paintings reference humourous still life within domestic settings.

Helena García Hermida

Helena García Hermida is a figurative painter whose practice combines elements of pictorial research and traditional Chinese painting techniques.