#1 Chris Newby, 2023 Jonathan Harvey Tenant Award
50 opportunities for 50 years
“I’ve never had a space in which I could make a mess, as I’ve had to film and work within spaces that are not for doing artwork of any kind.”
Filmmaker Chris Newby has had an Acme studio for the past five years, a space he sees as essential.
“Having my own studio space has just been fantastic. It’s nice to be in an environment of other artists, a community of artists. It’s not that we all work together but you know that you’ve got a sympathetic ear next door to you and, particularly now, that we’re all in the same boat at a really difficult time.” Chris Newby
As part of Acme’s 50th anniversary launch in November 2022, Chris was announced as the inaugural recipient of Acme’s Jonathan Harvey Award. A new artist opportunity within the framework of Acme’s ’50 opportunities for 50 years’, the award recognises the need to provide transformational support for artists at all stages of their careers.
In doing so, it looks to address the difficult circumstances facing established artists by offering an Acme artist tenant with a sustained practice an opportunity to develop or make a step change in their work.
Looking ahead, the annual award will highlight the continued contribution of artists with long-term practice to London’s creative ecosystem, honouring Acme’s retired Co-Founder Jonathan Harvey OBE.
“The Jonathan Harvey Award is a morale boost, artistically, and a creative boost at the same time.”
Chris plans to use the award to do something he has wanted to do for a long time, a return to 16mm, “otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to.”
Explaining this step change, Chris says he “began with a rucksack full of 16mm, making films with a Clockwork Bolex about remote islands such as Stromboli: cinepoems... They gradually developed a narrative, but there was always an abstract sensibility at work.”
For Chris, the award is “huge, it’s like getting a blood transfusion. A lot of the time you think that no-one’s taking any notice, and you’re working, you’re doing the best you can.” He also points to the importance of such opportunities: “This opportunity in particular is really important, I would say, because it’s for older artists... Of course, it’s great that all artists are helped but there’s an assumption that anyone over a certain age is either teaching with a secure income or are successful financially. But they’re not.”
Most importantly, however, is what the award enables Chris to do: “This award marks a return to where I began, 16mm, but there are all my changes of thinking in-between.”