artist development led by artists

We’re really happy to announce that the recipients of the 2021/22 Action Hero fellowships will be Adam and Gillian and Alexandrina Hemsley.

Alexandrina Hemsley’s creative practice lands in the fluid spaces of dance, choreography, writing, facilitating and advocacy. Her collaborations include Project O with Jamila Johnson-Small and Seke Chimutengwende on Black Holes. Alexandrina founded her own organisation Yewande 103 in July 2020.

Adam and Gillian’s practice seeks to explore the notion of ‘the imagined ideal’ through subjective performance, objective experimentation, documentation and observation. Gillian Lees is a performance practitioner who undertakes physically demanding and mentally exhausting durational performances, and Adam York Gregory is a scientist, games designer, typesetter, comic artist, film-maker and Visual Artist.

Over the next 18 months, Action Hero will support both Adam & Gillian and Alexandrina with peer-to-peer mentoring tailored to their respective needs, access to our archives/resources, time in our studio, as well as a no-strings-attached cash award of £6,000.

Our focus with the fellowships is on supporting extraordinary mid-career artists whose work doesn’t always fit easily into current trends or support structures, and whose work we think is brilliant and exciting.

We are really thrilled to be working with Alexandrina and Adam & Gillian. They are artists we hugely admire, we love what they do and we’re super chuffed to be able to offer support to them at crucial stages in their practices.

James and Gemma


A bit of background to our yearly fellowships: Each year, Action Hero awards a ‘fellowship’ to a mid-career artist or company who we think is brilliant. This fellowship is a package of support that includes £6k in no-strings-attached cash, mentoring, access to our studio and archive, and advocacy amongst our networks. The fellowship is aimed at performance makers who’re on the cusp of something amazing, and who we think can benefit from the expertise we’ve accumulated over the course of the last 15 years as an artist-led company, making touring work that sits in between performance, installation and social practice.

We’ve always been engaged in artist networks (via Residence, Forest Fringe & Brunswick Club) and in peer-to-peer support with other artists. When we became a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England back in April 2018, we started the fellowship as a way of continuing that support in a more structured way. As one of only a handful of artist-led organisations in the National Portfolio, we’re very keen to recycle some of our funding success into the artist-led communities in which we operate, and which have provided a lot of support to us over the years. The fellowship offers a way in which our NPO status can provide direct support to independent artists within the structure of an artist-led, peer to peer relationship. We select the artists via a nomination process- each year we ask a selection of artists, producers and curators to each nominate an artist/company who they feel is perfectly positioned to benefit from what Action Hero can offer.

In 2020-21, we awarded fellowships to Rachael Young, an award-winning artist and writer making interdisciplinary performance that creates spaces for intersectional realities to be explored and celebrated, and for alternative narratives and forms to evolve and be heard; and Figs in Wigs a company making epic, genre-bending performance that is recklessly joyful, highly visual and unashamedly revels in tackiness and trashiness to charm and disarm audiences of all ages.

In 2019, our first fellowship was awarded to Katherine Hall, a dance maker and performer whose work involves the bringing together of dance, visual art, space and sound.