ACAVA 2022 Countdown: Celebrating our year in numbers
31 December 2022

Welcome to our festive countdown – celebrating our year in numbers from 1–31 December as we look back on 2022.

Closeup of a child's feet wearing orange crocs stepping onto a circular mosaic artwork on a stone slab on the street, outdoors.

1… major public artwork launched

In June we unveiled Walking as One, a new public artwork in which 39 beautiful mosaics made by the local community were installed along the route of the Silent Walk to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Each mosaic slab includes a hand-drawn heart, 72 gold flecks for each life lost, and 35 mosaics feature the word ‘justice’ in different languages spoken in the tower.

The response to the piece over the past six months has been incredible and we’re so proud to have co-created something with such power and meaning. We are very grateful to our collaborators Al Manaar, artists Emily Fuller and Tomomi Yoshida, everyone who contributed to the creation of the mosaics, and Conway who so sensitively installed the pieces into the streets of North Kensington.

Children climbing up trees during our sessions at the Maxilla Garden, an adult watching.

2… awards for creative community collaboration

Our approach to community programming has been celebrated this year with two award nominations – the Calouste Gulbenkian’s Award for Civic Arts Organisations and the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance’s Collective Power Award, which we won, alongside the brilliant Gloucestershire Creative Health Consortium.

Awarded for the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic project, the nominations recognise the ethos and impact of all our co-created programmes. By bringing together professional artists and communities we create meaningful experiences with positive outcomes on wellbeing, personal growth and social cohesion and inspire people to get involved in the arts and learn new skills.

“I don’t want it to end because it’s so fun” Young Artists, 2022

3… Artist Development Prizes in Spode Works Studios

This year, to support our ambitions to support artists and their career development, we partnered with Keele University and this year’s Three Counties Open Art Exhibition, to offer three one-month-long residencies at our Spode Works Studios in Stoke-on-Trent.

Shed participant looking at prints made during a printmaking workshop, in a community makerspace, indoors.

4… years of making at Maxilla Men’s Shed

2022 marks the fourth year of our vibrant community workshop and makerspace located in our Maxilla Walk Studios in North Kensington. The Shed creates a welcoming and supported space for men, women and community groups to work on practical projects, follow hobbies, share skills and socialise.

We also run free specialist craft courses from carpentry to coppersmithing and work in partnership on public realm making projects. In 2022, 1,600 people over 230 sessions took part in the Shed.

“The Shed is like my second home, it’s a calming space for me. Exploring like-minded people and creativity, a retreat from the norm” Shed Participant

Detail of the facade of our Faroe Road Studios.

5… decades of ACAVA

Did you know…?

  • ACAVA stands for the Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art. Created as a state of radical intent by the artist founders to use culture for social good and it remains central to our ethos today.
  • Evolving from artist-led initiatives in the early 1970s, we’ve now been running artists’ studios and pioneering community arts for 50 years.
  • We have 16 buildings in locations across eight London boroughs, two locations in Essex and Spode Works – an old ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent. Within each of these buildings are incredible communities of 400 creative practitioners and cultural organisations.
  • Delivering co-created arts programmes in community settings is core to our vision – in 2022 we collaborated with 3,500 participants in our programmes and events.
Visitors to our open studios in Hadleigh Old Fire Station Studios and Ardleigh Studios looking at the work on display.

6… hundred people visited our open studios in Essex

Over 600 local community members attended the open studios in our Hadleigh Old Fire Station and Ardleigh Studios buildings in Essex this October and November.

Our open studios are an opportunity to meet our studio holders and browse the wide range of artworks and creative services they provide. Visit the ‘Studios’ page on our website for more information about our buildings and available studios in Essex.

Thank you to all the artists and visitors who took part!

Exhibition view of a photography show

7… hundred people saw ACAVA Shoots’ Piece Together exhibition

Piece Together by ACAVA Shoots charted the creation of the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic public artworks alongside photographs of the community since the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The 500 images were first displayed at ACAVA Maxilla Walk Studios in North Kensington in June, and in July were exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery in central London.

ACAVA Shoots promotes diversity within the creative and cultural industries by offering emerging photographers paid assignments, support from an experienced mentor and the opportunity to build a professional portfolio that will help launch their career.Did you know…? Almost all the images on our website and social media are by the ACAVA Shoots team.

Inside one of our Barham Park Studios spaces

8… London boroughs home to our studio communities

Evolving from our first building – Faroe Road Studios in Hammersmith and Fulham which we acquired in the 1970s – we now have thirteen studio buildings across eight of London’s boroughs, in sites ranging from refurbished industrial warehouses, potting sheds, an 18th-century manor house and an old laundrette.

We have studios in Ealing, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Kensington and Chelsea, Merton, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

As one of the largest affordable workspace providers, we offer an ecosystem of workspace, professional development, events and community programmes co-created with artists, supporting a creative community of 400 artists and cultural organisations.

Sign up for our regular Available Studios newsletter to be the first to hear about our current studio vacancies.

9… Factory artist development sessions

Factory is a free professional development for creatives, taking place online and in-person at our Spode Works Studios building in Stoke-on-Trent.

A partnership between ACAVA, the British Ceramics Biennial, Staffordshire University and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, sessions are delivered by practicing artists, photographers and makers, as well as experts in funding, marketing and business planning. Since the talks started in 2020, they have covered a wide range of subjects from getting funding to managing social media; dealing with imposter syndrome to creating a portfolio.

A film screening taking place in a large community hall with many people attending

10… community film screenings at Hadleigh Old Fire Station

Created as part of the 2012 Olympic legacy, Hadleigh Old Fire Station is a converted fire station which has become a cultural and community hub in the centre of Hadleigh, Essex.

Throughout 2022 we’ve hosted 10 film screenings and 600 attendees at the site.

Kingsway Community Cinema is a not-for-profit project offering an accessible and welcoming space where local people can come together and enjoy a varied programme of film screenings.

The cinema is one of 42 local groups, artists and individuals who used the building’s appliance hall space for events, rehearsals, workshops, performances and exhibitions last year.

Nadine Wilde, ACAVA artist at Spode Works Studios

11… new studio holders welcomed to Spode Works

Upholstery, shadow puppet making, and hand lettering are just some of the creative practices that have joined our Spode Works Studios building and artist community this year.

Spode Works is a converted part of the historic 250-year-old Spode ceramics factory and now provides 43 studios and exhibition space. Part of a creative hub contributing to the local creative economy, we work in partnership with local cultural organisations B arts, British Ceramics Biennial and Festival Stoke.

Subscribe to our Available Studios newsletter to keep up to date on available spaces here and at our studio buildings in London and Essex.

Large handmade wooden letters with drilled holes and gaps filled with bamboo sticks to function as bug hotels. All made at the Shed by participants.

12… bug hotels created

Developing skills is central to the Maxilla Men’s Shed. This year one of the ‘Shedder’s’ projects commissioned them to create 12 bug hotels for Barton House Estate in Hammersmith and Fulham. Co-designed by the participants, the bug hotels were designed as letters spelling out ‘Barton House’ and incorporated biodiverse structures.

The Shed holds weekly Tinkering Sessions where people can come and develop and share a range of craft-based skills through work on personal projects in a supportive environment. This year we also launched Skill Up, a programme of eight courses including coppersmithing, printmaking and weaving led by professional crafts practitioners.

All programmes in the Shed are free and open to all.

Studio 13 at Blechynden Street Studios, a bright and spacious clean space with artwork hanging on the wall

13… the studio number that named our new artist residency

Our Studio 13 Residency is a career development opportunity for artists who consider social engagement integral to their studio practice. The resident receives six-months rent-free access to studio 13 at our Blechynden Street Studios building, training opportunities and peer-to-peer support.

This year we collaborated with J D Rooney, a multidisciplinary artist from south London, between March and November.

DJ StayWavey playing live music during our Black History Month event at our Maxilla Walk Studios.

14… public exhibitions, events and open studios

We have been happy to host and support a variety of public events across our programmes and studio buildings from Black History Month celebrations at Maxilla Walk Studios to artist panel talks; and ACAVA Shoots’ exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery to multiple open studios, including Ardleigh Studios in Essex and Hythe Road Studios in London.

Subscribe to our newsletter and keep an eye on our website and social media for invitations to future events.

Large wooden planter being build at our Maxilla Men's Shed with Shedders and Idverde

15… planters created through creative partnership

As part of ‘The Greening Grey’ project for Barton House Estate in west London, leading landscape contractors Idverde commissioned our community makerspace Maxilla Men’s Shed to design and build a range of planters and bug hotels incorporating biodiverse structures. The commission was designed as a programme delivering specialist sessions with an experienced facilitator in biodiversity, ecology and carpentry.

Partnership is in our DNA. For almost 50 years we have worked in partnership to create thriving artistic studio communities and socially engaged community programmes. We are involved in a diversity of sectors from health and wellbeing to property management and creative placemaking to education.

Hythe Road Studios. View of a corridor leading onto various artists' studios in a large converted warehouse

16… ACAVA studio buildings

We are proud to be home to an incredible range of visual artists, creative practitioners, makers and cultural organisations. From refurbished industrial warehouses to potting sheds our 16 studio buildings span eight London boroughs, two sites in Essex and a historic ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

“Having a studio has enabled me to work on a large scale, to be incredibly messy and has given me a sanctuary, when the music is off, to be quiet and think.” Miranda Donovan, Hythe Road Studios

Read more Q&As with some of our artists on our website and sign up for our Available Studios newsletter to be the first to hear about vacant studios.

Maxilla Men's Shed, a community makerspace open to all. A Shedder develops their carpentry skills with the support of a member of the team.

17… hundred adults took part in our London programmes

Across our creative programmes in London, we welcomed 1700 adults who took part in a range of artistic practices from coppersmithing and carpentry to gardening and mosaic making.

Our weekly Tinkering Sessions and special Skill Up courses in our community makerspace Maxilla Men’s Shed are a space for individuals to learn or develop craft-based skills in a supportive and social environment.

Cultivate Create creative family growing project has a focus on wellbeing through exploring nature and horticulture.

Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic workshops this year brought local people together to create the 39 mosaics that comprise the Walking as One public artwork marking the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Flourish family workshops and events take place in the school holidays and explore what art is and can be in a fun and relaxed environment.

ACAVA artist Emma Mower working in her studio at HOFS.

18… thousand people visited Hadleigh Old Fire Station

ACAVA has managed Hadleigh Old Fire Station since 2011 from its creation as a legacy project of the 2012 Olympic Games to a thriving cultural and community centre in the heart of Hadleigh in Essex.

As well as 20 artist studios and workspaces the large ‘appliance hall’ hosts a range of community groups and activities from the Kingsway Community Cinema Project to the upcoming all-female ‘Robyn Hood’ Pantomime – and this year saw 18,500 local people come through the doors!

Closeup of radish in a gardener's hands.

19… types of vegetables grown by Cultivate Create families

Since April, 19 types of vegetables including cucumbers, courgettes, tomatoes and onions, have been grown by Cultivate Create families from seed to harvest. Join us for the next session on Saturday 19 January, when the group will be preparing the garden for the growing season and building a new polytunnel.

You will also be invited on a free trip to the Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanic garden, on Sunday 19 February. Sign up now on the Cultivate Create programme page to get involved.

Cultivate Create is a creative growing project delivered from the yard and forest school garden connected to our Maxilla Walk Studios building.

Photo of a cold frame and potted palm tree side by side in the outdoor area of Maxilla Men's Shed.

20… trees donated to our studio spaces

This year we were generously donated 20 trees to improve the environment of some of our sites.

At Hadleigh Old Fire Station, The Woodland Trust gifted 15 urban tree saplings and a Rowan and Hazel tree to our family growing programme Cultivate Create, which were planted in the yard of our Maxilla Walk site.

West London’s Dutchess gave two Olive trees, a Palm and lots of smaller plants to the Maxilla Men’s Shed which have been homed in the outside yard of the makerspace and provided decoration for our Black History Month event Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. The little plants are being kept warm in a cold frame built by one of the ‘Shedders’ with perspex from the V&A.

The V&A donated materials, tools and machines to the Shed this year and we also received timber saved from landfill from Event Cycle which was used to create additional storage for ‘Shedders’ to keep their ongoing project work.

Nicky Griffiths, Long Arm Quilter, ACAVA artist at Spode Works Studios, Stoke on Trent. Photo by ACAVA Shoots (Zute Lightfoot)

21… open calls and artist resources promoted every fortnight

Did you know…every two weeks we publish new opportunities for artists and creatives through our newsletter and dedicated Resources page on our website? We totted them up and it averages 21 posts a fortnight!

From open calls and commissions to funding opportunities and residencies, sign up for our newsletter and be the first to hear about them. If you have an exciting opportunity you would like us to share, please get in touch!

22… adults and children discovered art in creative venues outside London

In August and October, we invited North Kensington families on free days out to Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village and Wysing Arts Centre. They worked with Flora Duley and Emily Motto to explore the venue and create artwork inspired by their findings.

Our next trip will be in April 2023, subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear the details of our Flourish: Breathe programme.

“My sons loved the outdoor space, lovely to try new things.”
Parent, Wysing Arts Centre trip (Oct 2022)

ACAVA artist Freya Sharp at the studios.

23… artists in Maxilla Walk Studios

Our Maxilla Walk Studios, located under the Westway in North Kensington, are home not only to a vibrant community of 23 artists but are also a hub of free creative community activity!

The studios’ gallery space hosts exhibitions and projects from our creative programmes such as this year’s Piece Together exhibition by ACAVA Shoots, which charted the creation of the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic public artworks alongside photographs of the community since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and commemorated the 5th anniversary of the fire.

Most Flourish sessions run from the studios. Flourish is our school holiday art programme for families with primary school-aged children.

Cultivate Create is a creative growing project for families delivered from the yard and forest school garden.

Maxilla Men’s Shed, our community workshop and makerspace, also runs from the studios.

ACAVA staff group photo

24… members of staff and trustees

We are a dynamic and creative team of 16 that work across a wide range of areas including creative workspace management, delivering co-created programmes, administration, communications and fundraising. Lots of the team are practicing artists, and others have worked in the creative sector for many years.

We’re also supported by a talented volunteer trustee board with Alex Matthews, Alice Boff, Casper van Eijck, Jess Pym, Michelle Kershaw (Chair), Paul Augarde, Rebekah Paczek and Yasmin Jones-Henry.

A huge thanks to them all for their time and guidance this year! Read more about our trustees here.

Closeup of a version of the "On hold" artwork, a NOKIA phone and a set of golden keys on a Royal Mail bag, on speakers.

25… new works by artist in residence J D Rooney

During the 6 months as Studio 13 resident, J D Rooney created 25 new artworks including “On hold”, “Mangrove” and the series “Digital Tsunami”.

Some of these works were featured in Unknown Journey, his end-of-residency studio exhibition at Blechynden Street Studios, in November.

Learn more about J D Rooney’s work and our Studio 13 Residency programme here.

Succour Process, SE London Festival, 2020. Artwork by ACAVA artist Ian Gouldstone

26… newsletters sent

Want to be the first to hear about our vacant studios, programmes and artist opportunities? Check out our fortnightly newsletters to get the lowdown…

Our newsletter contains ACAVA news, resources for artists and recently the meet our artists feature which spotlights artists from across our studios.

We also have a dedicated available studios newsletter which highlights our current vacant studios to subscribers.

Sign up today to get the January issues in your inbox.

families taking part in various Flourish creative workshops in 2022

27… creative workshops for families

Flourish is our school holiday art programme for families in North Kensington with primary school-aged children. Families work with professional artists to discover creativity through a theme. Each holiday has a different theme and this year we’ve explored how art can: Elevate, Ravel and Unwind, Echo, Belong and Evergreen.

The next workshops will be held in February half-term 2023. More information and a booking link will be shared in the new year.

Close-up of a child excitedly flinching away at paint splashes.

28… paint balloons thrown by our Young Artists

In August, our nine Young Artists threw 28 paint balloons at big sheets marked with masking tape designs. Participants collaborated with artist and Studio 13 resident J D Rooney to experiment with different ways of making and collaborating as a group.

The Young Artists programme is delivered from Studio 1 at our Blechynden Street Studios and encourages young people to explore what art is and can be.

Thank you to J D Rooney for facilitating and Jason Garcia and Zute Lightfoot for documenting this messy day of creating!

Photograph taken during a printmaking workshop at Maxilla Mens Shed with facilitator Michael Ward

29… 9 creative programme sessions

We ran almost 300 creative programme sessions in London this year, in which over 2000 people participated – up from 950 in 2021!

We’re going to continue connecting with our local communities in 2023 and, thanks to becoming an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, will be able to offer more chances for people to experience creativity first-hand. We can’t wait to get started!

ACAVA artists Tomomi Yoshida and Emily Fuller smiling for the camera, during a Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic session with the local community.

30… years of NHS collaboration

We have a unique expertise in delivering socially engaged arts programmes in community and non-clinical health and wellbeing settings.

Activities delivered from our two-site campus in North Kensington exemplify decades-long successful collaborations with the NHS, Clinical Commissioning Groups, local stakeholders, artists and communities.

Some of these partnerships include:

  • West London Clinical Commissioning Group – Since 2012, we have co-created two permanent art collections: at the St Charles Centre for Health and Wellbeing and the Violet Melchett Clinic;
  • NHS North Kensington Recovery Programme – Over the last five years, ACAVA has been the lead arts organisation designing and delivering creative programmes supporting Grenfell Tower fire recovery. They include the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic, with our partner Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre; two family programmes Flourish and Cultivate Create; and Maxilla Mens’ Shed;
  • 3ST – We advocate for the arts in the health sector as part of a coalition of third-sector organisations working to improve health and care commissioning.

31… artists delivered our workshops and programmes

Many of our programmes create paid opportunities for practicing artists and creatives. In 2022, we collaborated with 31 artists across our programmes to deliver workshops for Flourish, Flourish: Breathe, Cultivate Create, Young Artists, Skill Up, Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic as well as Postcard from Hadleigh in Essex and High Street Heritage Action Zone in Stoke-on-Trent.

Are you interested in working with us? Keep up to date with us via our website, social media and newsletter to hear about our open calls.

Thank you for reading our 2022 highlights. We look forward to continuing our work in 2023 – see you there!