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; an extract from Shape CEO from 2008-17 and now Chair Tony Heaton OBE, who was instrumental in developing the ARMB, can be read below.

I was very fortunate to know Adam Reynolds, as a fellow artist and a friend; in fact it was his work that convinced me to show my own work within a disability arts context.

In 1990, we were both invited to exhibit in ‘Out of Ourselves’, possibly the first group show of disabled artists, organised by LDAF, the London Disability Arts Forum and held at the Diorama Gallery in Regent’s Park. I saw Adam’s ‘Lead Suitcase’ for the first time, a powerful piece of sculpture, and I knew I had made the right decision to show my own work there.

I liked him immediately. We kept in touch and when I became Director of Holton Lee, in Dorset in 1997, I invited him down. I later commissioned him to make a way marker in the grounds of the estate, and he showed in DA21, the Disability Arts and Culture Conference I organised there in 2002, exhibiting two works: ‘Temptation’ and ‘Sword of Damocles’. He pledged them both to the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA), a project I had founded and which is currently being realised by Shape Arts - and they remained on display in the Farmhouse and Faith House Gallery respectively throughout my tenure at Holton Lee. Adam said of them in the catalogue:

‘These pieces are very simple. They refer to myths from classical Greece, of Pandora and Damocles, and so use marble, which together with bronze was established as the only serious sculptor’s medium. In this case though, the marble is not a pale condensed limestone, but a round glass child’s toy. This subversion changes everything and allows a whole new layer of meaning…’

Adam also gave an artist’s presentation, where he talked about there being a disability element in every piece he made, and ‘being driven by a desire to get people interested in your ideas, and I include in that disability. It’s been the single most important factor in allowing me to step aside and get around the dominance of the way that our culture brings us up.’

He finished by saying, ‘there are always echoes of my experience present; I don’t mind if nobody ever reads them, but if I can’t read them then I know there’s something wrong with that piece of work. If I can’t see that particular perspective of my life in work I make, I know I am lying and if I make a work that’s not telling the truth what am I bothering for? So from that perspective, all of my work’s got something to do with disability and my disability.’

I was privileged to be asked to speak at Adam’s memorial service, and when I took on the role of CEO at Shape in 2008 I knew the most important thing I could do in those early days was to ensure that the ARMB was not just a ‘one off’ event as planned. We had to raise the money to make it an annual event. I also wanted to take it around the country, to give disabled artists something to aim for in their locality. It’s been reaffirming to have had such significant contemporary art galleries from all across England wanting to work with us, to perpetuate Adam’s name, to promote the importance of the Bursary and to attract such interesting artists.

Long may that continue.

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. You can read further extracts on the Shape blog: one by Arts Council England Chair Nicholas Serota here, one by Manick Govinda and Simon Raven here, and one by Jenni Lomax and Noëmi Lakmaier here.

Image: Untitled work by Adam Reynolds from 'Water Works' series (1992-93)