#6 Ding Ruyi, 2023 Helen Scott Lidgett Award
50 opportunities for 50 years
“I have seen so many excellent peers drop off just because they cannot afford a proper studio. I have seen extraordinary artworks abandoned after graduation shows, just because the artists cannot afford storage costs. I have seen my artist friends stuck in tiny bedrooms struggling to keep practicing. We need more opportunities and more support.”
Ding Ruyi is a London-based artist from China working in installation, moving image, performance, and painting. She was selected for the 2022/23 Helen Scott Lidgett Award by a panel including Zane Čulkstena, founder of Kim Contemporary Art Centre from a shortlist of six MFA graduate artists at Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London), and currently shares a studio as part of Acme’s Early Career Programme.
The Helen Scott Lidgett Award is a partnership between Acme, Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London), Art Academy of Latvia and the family of Helen Scott Lidgett. Aiming to provide a bridge between art school and professional practice, the award includes a bursary, rent-free studio space and access to mentoring.
Recipients of Acme’s Early Career Awards Programme work from shared studios in order to encourage an environment of peer support and critical dialogue.
“On the one hand, the Helen Scott Lidgett Award supports me with an extraordinary studio space so that my ambitious installations have the potential to achieve. On the other hand, this award gives me a sense of responsibility to deliver better work.” Ding Ruyi
Ding’s first impression of the studio was “a big ‘WOW’… super spacious with high ceilings”, and the space and flexibility it provides is particularly important. “It’s nice because there is 24/7 access, so I can come to the studio whenever I get inspiration.”
Over the next year, she aims to put this inspiration to use with two projects in mind. “Both are about art and labour and power relations. I will use the studio space to build my installations once I collect the materials and as my 'office' to film myself when I am 'working'.”
And building on the peer support and critical dialogue at the heart of the shared studio, Ding also plans to “invite some of my artist friends to have crits”.
“I have to say, these opportunities are extremely important to artists in their early careers,” Ding says, “it’s a life-changing award”.