In celebration of the tenth anniversary of Shape Arts’ flagship art award, the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary, we've created the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary at Ten publication, featuring essays and texts by Nicholas Serota, Jenni Lomax, Manick Govinda, Noëmi Lakmaier, Simon Raven and Tony Heaton OBE, discussing and exploring the significance and legacy of the award.

The publication accompanies our latest exhibition In Out There, taking place at Attenborough Arts Centre until 17 June and showing work by Adam Reynolds alongside newly commissioned work by 2018 ARMB recipient Terence Birch, as well as work by Sarah CarpenterNicola Lane and Catherine Cleary, who were all shortlisted for this year's award. The publication is available for purchase from Shape directly or at Attenborough Arts Centre; Arts Council England Chair Nicholas Serota's extract can be read below.

When Adam Reynolds opened his gallery in 1984, occupying a former shop on the ground floor of a small house on Walcot Square in Lambeth, he was making the kind of move that characterised his approach to life: unexpected, shrewd and with a potential to bring benefit to others that no one else could have envisaged. Adam spent his life breaking convention, refusing to be constrained by his muscular dystrophy, mischievously attempting risky acts of physical exertion, taking himself on journeys that no able-bodied person would sensibly consider and eventually becoming a powerful advocate for inclusiveness in the arts through his service as a Trustee and Chair of Shape and a member of advisory panels for Arts Council England.

At Walcot Square, he realised that the house would provide him with accommodation, a studio on site, a space to show his own sculpture and to exhibit the work of other artists. As an artist, he recognised that the most difficult step for emerging or even mid-career artists was to realise an exhibition in a place that other artists, curators and critics would respect.  He wanted to create opportunities for artists to explore new ideas in an unusual space, without the pressures attendant on an exhibition in a commercial gallery. He knew that most artists need time, space and encouragement to produce their best work, though he himself seemed to flourish without such support. As someone who was not expected to survive beyond his teens, he was probably driven forward by a realisation that he had little time to develop his own language. Over his twenty-year career, he developed a practice that frequently used found objects and detritus, observing that there was a parallel to be drawn between finding beauty and value in material discarded by society and ‘my lifelong experience of disability and the desire to challenge the commonplace assumption that this renders life all but useless and without value’. As his career developed, he was increasingly drawn to making works for public sites. Several were designed with the help of people with their own impairments and some seek to engage the ‘viewer’ as a participant. Undoubtedly, Adam’s own physical impairment gave him a sensitivity to the haptic quality of materials and objects that might elude someone without an impairment. As such, his works have special value and open doors to experience that would otherwise be closed.

A slim white man in a blue robe is laying on a red velvet cushion on a pavement with his hand outstretched and eyes closed. A cardboard sign in front of him reads A slim white man in a blue robe is laying on a red velvet cushion on a pavement with his hand outstretched and eyes closed. A cardboard sign in front of him reads Andicapped Adam says thank youA slim white man in a blue robe is laying on a red velvet cushion on a pavement with his hand outstretched and eyes closed. A cardboard sign in front of him reads Andicapped Adam says thank you

Above: Adam Reynolds - 'Andicapped Adam Thanks You' (1990). Photo by David Hevey

Adam died in 2005, shortly before he was due to realise a performance, ‘Sisyphus’, in front of Tate Modern, using water-scoured bricks scavenged from the Thames; a play on Carl Andre’s celebrated sculpture made in firebricks. In the period since, the creative world has become more open and determined to create opportunity and support for disabled artists involved in dance, performance, theatre, music and the visual arts. The Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary is one manifestation of such support, building on the model of Adam’s own gallery by engaging some of the best small, public galleries in the country. It provides an opportunity for reflection and exploration for disabled artists, followed by the chance to show their work on a very visible public platform. In other initiatives, Arts Council England has also encouraged new commissions by disabled artists and performers, as in their major grant ‘Ramps on the Moon’, conceived by a group of theatres working together to produce large scale, integrated, touring theatre pieces. However, Adam would certainly have regarded progress as being too slow. He would have wanted to see a more rapid inclusion of disabled artists and performance in the wider community, making them part of general gallery and theatrical experience rather than something unusual. And, while he would have welcomed the Arts Council England initiative on placing disabled artists and professionals in leadership roles as ‘Changemakers’ in arts organisations, he would have been dismayed by the fact that in a recent survey only 5% of managers in arts organisations self-identified as ‘disabled’. He would have rightly argued that we all benefit, as audiences, participants and collaborators, when the pool of experience is deeper and broader than has been traditional.

The need for the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary scheme is therefore as strong as it was when it began ten years ago. We should cultivate and celebrate new, different and potentially challenging voices. There is a danger that, as a country facing social and economic uncertainty, we will turn for solace to the mainstream, the known and the familiar, rather than reflecting the complex and exciting nature of a society that dares to enjoy what Adam described as ‘the contradictory nature of the universe’.

- Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England and Director, Tate 1988-2017

In Out There takes place at Attenborough Arts Centre until 17 June. Please find full information on the exhibition at

The Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary at Ten publication is available for purchase from Shape for £5 + £2 P&P - please email [email protected] or call 020 7424 7330 if you would like a copy.

Image: Nicholas Serota awarding the 9th ARMB to Oliver MacDonald at the National Theatre. Photo by Andy Barker