Acme Studios — Stephen Cripps: In Real Life Live Programme

Supporting Artists since 1972

Stephen Cripps: In Real Life Live Programme

Saturday 7 January 2023

The Stephen Cripps In Real Life: Live Programme was a day of discussion, film and live performance inspired by the work of Stephen Cripps. Artists, curators and filmmakers explored themes related to Cripps’ art and legacy and the role that affordable artist studios and workspaces continue to play in supporting and enabling experimental artistic practice. This event was hosted by Turner Contemporary, and supported by Acme and the Elephant Trust

Stephen Cripps: In Real Life was the perfect curtain raiser for Acme’s anniversary year, given Cripps’ intertwined legacy with the organisation, seminal shows at The Acme Gallery and the presence of former Acme tenants and residents as part of the exhibition’s programme.

In Real Life and the associated public programme was presented by Turner Contemporary and curated by Ingrid Swenson, with the support of the Henry Moore Foundation.


12.00 – 13.30 - Panel 1: Stephen Cripps and his Legacy

Speakers: Anne Bean, artist; Sean Dower, artist; Lea Letzel, artist; Naomi Pearce, artist; Ally Raftery, writer; William Raban, filmmaker; Richard Wilson, artist.

Chair: Ingrid Swenson, curator of In Real Life

Anne Bean, friend and collaborator of Stephen Cripps, together with musician Fergus Kelly, will show a commissioned video Sparks and Spells with live action.

13.30-15.00 - Lunch

15.00-16.30 - Panel 2: Artists’ Run Studios, Then and Now: – a developing story

Speakers: Polly Brannan, Artistic Director, Open School East; Emer Grant, Artistic Director and CEO, NN, Northampton; Acme Co-Director and Co-Founder, David Panton; Morgan Quaintance; artist and writer.

Chair: Matthew Noel-Tod

16.45 - Launch of Sean Dower’s new artist book Monumental Guns and Their Targets

17.00-18.00 - Refreshments & close

The Stephen Cripps: In Real Life live programme was supported by Acme and the Elephant Trust.

The exhibition Stephen Cripps: In Real Life was presented by Turner Contemporary and curated by Ingrid Swenson, with the support of the Henry Moore Foundation.

Speaker Biographies

Anne Bean

For over fifty years, Anne Bean has presented solo and collaborative work in numerous galleries and venues worldwide. This year her work is shown in a solo presentation at Frieze Masters, London, and Paris Photo with England & Co, as well works included in exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery and Somerset House, London. Anne Bean performed several times at The Acme Gallery in the 1970’s.

Polly Brannan

Polly Brannan is the Artistic Director at Open School East, a free and alternative art school based in Margate and founded in 2013. Polly was previously Education Curator at Liverpool Biennial 2012-18 and Education Curator at Serpentine Galleries 2011–13. She is Founder and artist with the network Avant Gardening and was a member of arts/architecture collective public works 2005-2011. She has curated, delivered and produced large-scale commissions with artists Mohamed Bourouissa, Koo Jeong A, Ryan Gander and Monster Chetwynd, amongst many others. Previous engagements include Triangle Network Fellowship, Ethiopia; Istanbul Biennale 2017, Turkey and Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India 2018.

Sean Dower

Sean Dower made live performances with sound in the early 1980s before going on to work with the radical performance art group Bow Gamelan Ensemble. He studied Sculpture at Camberwell School of Art, London (1988-1991) and participated in the Rijksakademie residency programme in Amsterdam (1993-1995).

Dower works with sculpture, film, photography, performance and sound and has exhibited his work internationally in a broad range of contexts. He was a Henry Moore Institute fellow in 2019 where he researched the archive of Stephen Cripps, alongside other artists’ work that explores the expanded sculptural idiom. Sean Dower is a current Acme artist tenant.

Emer Grant

Emer Grant is Artistic Director and CEO at NN, Northampton. A curator, producer and researcher, she completed her Masters in Curatorial Studies at CCS Bard College, USA, and History of Art at the University of York, and her BFA in Critical Fine Art Practice at the University of Brighton. Over the course of more than ten years working across the museum and gallery sector, she has contributed to many exhibition projects in curatorial, production and editorial roles. Emer was a Fellow for The Recalibrated Institution (Miami) and Curator at Art Center South Florida (now Oolite Arts). Prior to this Emer was an Associate Curator of the 2014 Sonorities Festival (Belfast), she has curated shows and programming for various institutions including the Hessel Museum (NY), P! Gallery (NY), ISCP (NY), Stroom den Haag (NL) Void Gallery (NI), Pollinaria (IT), Yeah Maybe (MN), PHL (DE) and The Grand Parade Gallery (UK).

Lea Letzel

Lea Letzel is an artist, director and pyrotechnician who develops interdisciplinary performative works at the interface of sound and music, media art, dance and space. The focus is on the concert format and the examination of questions concerning the conditions and conventions of performance situations. Lea Letzel studied at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies at the Justus Liebig University in Gießen and the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. Since 2015 she has been trained as a pyrotechnician and special effects technician. She has participated in international exhibitions as well as performances at Witte de With, Rotterdam, Maschinenhaus Essen, Theater Duisburg, Philharmony, Duisburg, Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, Bonner Gesellschaft für Kunst und Gestaltung, Bonn, FrankfurtLAB, Frankfurt am Main, Acht Brücken Festival, Köln, Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg, PACT Zollverein, Essen, Münchner Kammerspiele, and Kaaitheater Brussels. Lea Letzel was the 2017/18 recipient of the Hessische Kulturstiftung London residency, hosted by Acme.

David Panton

David Panton OBE is a Co-Director and Co-Founder of Acme. Founded by artists, for artists, in 1972, and celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Acme is a charity based in London which provides affordable studios, work/live space, and a programme of artist support including residencies and awards. Acme is the single largest provider of permanent affordable artist studios in England, focused on supporting artists in necessitous circumstances. From 2010-2017, David was a founder director of Ocean Studios, Plymouth, an artists’ studio, workshop and gallery initiative developed in the Royal William Dockyard. Internationally, David has advised city governments and artist studio groups in Montreal, Canada (2012) and Seoul and Incheon, South Korea (2016) on the route to creating permanent studios.

Naomi Pearce

Naomi Pearce is a writer, curator and administrator. Recent projects include Almost Conceptual, Matt’s Gallery, London, Unbidden Tongues #7: Continuity Girl, edited by Isabelle Sully, published by Kunstverein Munich and Rita Keegan: Somewhere Between There and Here, South London Gallery (co-curated with Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Lauren Craig and Gina Nembhard). Her debut novella will be published by MOIST in 2023.

Morgan Quaintance

Morgan Quaintance is a London-based artist and writer. His moving image work has been shown and exhibited widely at festivals and institutions in the UK and internationally and his critically incisive writings on contemporary art, aesthetics and their socio-political contexts have featured in publications including Art Monthly, the Wire, and the Guardian.

William Raban

William Raban has made over 50 films in a variety of cinema and gallery contexts since 1970. He is Professor Emeritus of Film at the University of the Arts London. William worked and lived in Acme housing during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Ally Raftery

Ally Raftery is a writer based in Hastings. From the 1980s to the early 2000s she worked as an art administrator and freelance arts consultant at a number of London galleries, including AIR, Matt’s Gallery, Beaconsfield and The Showroom. She also worked at arts organisations such as the London Arts Board and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. In the 2000s she moved to the west coast of Ireland where she set up and ran an award winning boutique hotel with links to the Celtic Literary Revival. As a contemporary and close friend of Stephen Cripps, she attended and wrote about many of his performances and other experimental art practices at that time.

Ingrid Swenson

Ingrid Swenson MBE is a curator and writer with over 30 years’ experience working primarily with contemporary artists in a variety of gallery, offsite and unconventional contexts. From 1998 to 2021 she was Director of PEER, the acclaimed east London arts organisation. Recent exhibitions that she has curated have included those with artists Lubna Chowdhary, Samson Kambalu, Olga Jevric, Jadé Fadojutimi and Jonathan Baldock & Emma Hart. Prior to PEER she worked at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle; the ICA and Serpentine, London and has guest-curated exhibitions for The Contemporary Art Society and Whitechapel Art Gallery. Current writing includes texts about artists Savinder Bual, Anna Cady and Chisato Minamimura for Arts & Heritage’s Meeting Point commissions. Her children’s book Masterpieces in Pieces, a young person’s guide to taking great art apart, has just been published by Hachette.

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson R.A. is one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors, internationally celebrated for his interventions in architectural space which draw heavily for their inspiration from the worlds of engineering and construction. From 1983 to1990 he was a founding member of the Bow Gamelan Ensemble with Anne Bean & Paul Burwell. He continues his collaborations in sound performances alongside producing major public sculptures.

Matthew Noel-Tod

Matthew Noel-Tod is an artist, filmmaker, writer and educator. In 2018, Matthew co-founded Conditions, a low-cost studio programme for artists. His writing about art has appeared in Art Monthly, Frieze and Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ). His recent writing for Art Monthly highlighted the inequalities at play in the growth of ‘meanwhile use’ spaces for artists.