The Sir Denis Mahon Award at the Royal Drawing School

This prestigious award was created to honour the memory of Sir Denis Mahon and his lifelong passion for painting and drawing. During his lifetime he was a great supporter of the Royal Drawing School (formerly The Prince’s Drawing School) and this annual award was created to give a recent graduate of The Drawing year the opportunity to continue to focus on drawing from observation and to develop their work.

A prize of £10,000 is awarded to an outgoing Drawing Year student each year to enable them to continue their practice as an artist, it runs from March to March and the award goes towards a studio space for the duration of the year as well as a solo exhibition.

The artists who have so far received the award are:

  • 2020-21 Deanio X
  • 2019-20 Irene Montemurro
  • 2018-19 Joana Galego
  • 2017-18 Holly Froy
  • 2016-17 Naomi Trevor
  • 2015-16 Rosie Vohra
  • 2014-15 Jessie Makinson
  • 2013-14 Jonathan Farr
  • 2012-13 Tom Sander
  • 2011-12 Alex Cree

DEANIO X is the recipient of The Sir Denis Mahon Award 2021.

Deanio X is a London-based artist who graduated from the University of Kent with a degree in American Studies (History & Literature). Having travelled widely across five different continents, his work expresses political and often controversial themes around identity which examine his journey and the history of his lineage through his art.

He has sought to create visual narratives built from his research, observational drawing and imagination to stretch conceptualisations of popular history. Interested in redefining tales that surround the contemporary experience of Africans in Europe and beyond, Deanio accepted a scholarship to the Royal Drawing School in 2018 to build on his self-developed practice and to further explore the transformative potential of visual art.

In the summer of 2020, Deanio created a new mural installation to the Stay Strong Route in the gallery of The Royal Drawing School, Shoreditch, designed to spread a message of support to the community of people working and living in the local area and to welcome back students and tutors and the School’s studio after a six-month closure.

Also in 2020, Deanio completed an exciting project with the BLKBRD Collective, which was commissioned by the Royal Museums, Greenwich, to curate an artist-led takeover to support the re-opening of their sites following lockdown, which can be seen on his website. The sail, called Ghost Meridian, addresses the generational experiences of migrants in a historic and contemporary British environment.

This project is also highlighted on Deanio’s website, in the online gallery, Fresh Off the Boats, which honours the sacrifices of migrants to Britain today and throughout time. The mixed media works in this gallery explore the legacies of migration over the seas via original paintings, GIF footage and photography, from the transatlantic slave trade to the contemporary refugee crisis, the Windrush scandal, to the disproportionate BAME death toll for Covid-19. Further recent and current work can be seen at Deanio’s website.



Fall of the Spectre, 2020 indoor mural at The Royal Drawing School


Creating the Ghost Meridian.


Waterfolk, aluminium etching 1/3, 2018


Hull, ink and acrylic on paper, 2018


One Drop, ink and acrylic on paper, 2018


Extract from Sketchbook II


Anthropocene I, chalk, charcoal, water, ink on paper, 2019


Deanio X in his studio