Ilford artist wins £5,000 bursary from Space studio

Ilford-based artist Dene Leigh won a £5,000 bursary by Space Studios as part of Arts Council England's Culture Recovery Fund.

Ilford-based artist Dene Leigh won a £5,000 bursary by Space Studios as part of Arts Council England's Culture Recovery Fund. - Credit: Dene Leigh

An Ilford-based artist is one of 20 to have been awarded a £5,000 bursary by Space studios, to promote people who are under-represented in the art world.

Artist Dene Leigh, who explores neurological impairment through his paintings, sculptures and drawings, was part of a group of visual artists to receive the bursary, which comes with mentoring and support by Space - which has studios at Redbridge Town Hall - as part of Arts Council England's Culture Recovery Fund.

The awards are aimed at individuals in their first 10 years of practice, whose ethnicity, disability or socio-economic background may have affected their career advancement.

Three of the artists will also receive a 12 month rent-free studio and four have been invited to advise on and help shape Space's public programme.

Dene decided to focus his artwork on exploring how fragile our memory is, after watching his grandfather struggle with the consequences of his memory loss following a stroke.


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Anna Harding, Space CEO, said: “We decided that an important way to contribute to the resilience of the visual arts sector is by investing in talented artists who are excluded and under-represented.

"We are grateful for support from Arts Council England's Culture Recovery Fund which Space is using directly to support artists, without whom there would be no arts sector."

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Dr Omar Kholeif, director of collections and senior curator at the Sharjah Art Foundation, who was one of the members of the selection panel, said it was a "thrilling challenge" to select the award winners.

"The breadth of the artistic practices presented was electrifying, clearly demonstrating the necessity for initiatives that seek to open up the door to artists from a broader range of backgrounds and experiences."

Dene said the bursary has come at a great time to help him create more work, which he has been creating in isolation, years before the coronavirus lockdowns.

He said: "Amidst isolation, to be seen and recognised for my practice by a distinguished panel of judges means so much to me." 

Dene has had two solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, and has been selected for the 2020 Derwent Art Prize held in London and Paris. 

He has also been selected to exhibit at the 2014 Young Masters Art Prize and the 2017 and 2018 Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. 

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