Wandle Studio Prize… 

From 2015-2018 The Wandle Studio Prize at Merton Abbey Mills provided FREE studio space which helped to launch a new creative business for one year.

The Wandle Studio Prize was a financially supported residency and career opportunity for third year students working in any medium from the BA Fine Art or BA Theatre & Screen pathways at Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL. The prize was awarded to either one artist or designer, or a small group/collective.

The competition was run by Wimbledon College of Arts and the business premises were funded by Office Estates Limited and aimed to support students making the early career transition from being undergraduates to professional practitioners.

in 2018 there were two outstanding candidates deemed worthy enough that each was awarded the final prize. Both winners worked in film, theatre and television productions skills: one with special effects and the other focusing on costume design.

The first of the winners was Thomas Tuohey, a graduate from BA Technical Arts & Special Effects.  He proposes to launch a business which would develop his work in creating specialist mechanical and sculptural parts for the burgeoning special effects marketing in film and television. He also plans to run short courses from the space, which would focus on teaching basic skills such a life casting for artistic purposes to more advanced materials practice, moulding and 3D mechanical design for printing to other practitioners keen to extend their skills.

Also awarded a space was a group of graduates from the BA Costume Interpretation course: Carmen Whiteley, Charlotte Riddington, Sophie Brewer, Eleanor Freeman and Katherine Cox, whose practice focuses on making both theatrical and film costumes, as well as carrying out detailed historical research that informs the making process. They intend to use their studio as a shared costume workroom, where they can continue to create costumes with the facilities and space required to complete freelance work, allowing them the flexibility to take on work for student, fringe and independent productions that often do not have the budget or space for a dedicated costume workroom.

Of the studio’s location, they said: “Merton Abbey Mills has been involved in the creation of fabric and fashion since the seventeenth century, and as craftspeople who work almost exclusively with cloth; we would relish the opportunity to be even a small part of continuing the legacy of the textiles industry at Merton Abbey Mills.”

Office Estates Limited own and manage Merton Abbey Mills, a unique historical riverside setting home to an entire community of creative arts and award-winning, independent food producers and businesses.

Wimbledon College of Arts encourages practical experimentation as a way to learn the skills needed for a successful career in the arts. With around 800 students on our Fine Art and Theatre and Screen courses, students learn in the college’s specialist workshops, studios and on-site professional theatre from expert tutors and technicians who either work in the industry or have their own practices.


The Wandle Trail… 

Distance: 12 miles (19.3km)
Start: Enterprise Way, SW18
Finish: Wandle Park tram station
Duration: 2 hours
Route: NCN route 20

Route notes
From the southern bank of the Thames, the trail follows the route of a Thames subsidiary, the eponymous Wandle, south-east towards Croydon, taking in numerous green spaces and hidden parts of the city. The start and finish are easily accessible by public transport.

Terrain and gradients
Mainly traffic-free paths with a few busy road sections.

How to get there/away
The start point is near Wandsworth Town railway station, which connects to London Waterloo, while Wandle Park is near the rail hub of East Croydon.

What to see
Much of the pleasure of this route comes from the multiple green spaces it crosses, from nature reserves to city parks. Wilderness Island, in particular, is a natural haven for dozens of bird species, including woodpeckers and tufted ducks. Other attractions on the way include Deen City Farm and Merton Abbey Mills, a former textile works that once housed William Morris’s factory. And look out for the series of blue ceramic plaques along the route (pictured) – an art project designed to celebrate locally meaningful sites along the trail.