Veronica Ryan, an artist who created the first permanent public artwork to commemorate the Windrush Generation, has won this year’s Turner Prize, the UK’s best-known contemporary art award.
Ryan’s sculptures, which use both natural and manufactured objects to explore ideas of displacement, loss and recovery, were chosen by the judges for “the personal and poetic way in which she expands the language of sculpture”.
Past winners of the £25,000 annual prize, which goes to a British artist or someone working primarily in Britain, include Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst. The other three 2022 shortlisted nominees – Heather Phillipson, Sin Wai Kin and Ingrid Pollard – each received £10,000 at the awards ceremony on Wednesday night.
Ryan, a Montserrat-born British artist, splits her time between New York and Bristol, where this year she hosted a show on themes such as migration, history and the psychological effects of the pandemic.
Alex Farquharson, co-chair of the judges and director of Tate Britain, said on Wednesday: “The jury was excited about the recent turn in the work of an artist whose practice dates back to the 1980s. There are more elements in the room and an increased use of color. Humble seeds or pods, or old plastic bottles, are transformed in unexpected and subtle ways.”
The 66-year-old artist, who studied at London’s Slade School of Art, was nominated for her solo exhibition “Along a Spectrum” at Spike Island, an art gallery in Bristol, and the Windrush art commission in Hackney, East London. with bronze and marble sculptures of a custard apple, soursop (a fruit) and breadfruit.
This year’s awards ceremony was held at Tate Liverpool alongside an exhibition of the work of the four nominees. In Ryan’s show, brightly colored crochet bags hang from the walls and ceiling, containing seeds, fruit pits, and bits of plaster.
The eligibility criteria have changed several times since the Turner Prize was established in 1984. Five years ago, the age restriction on performers over 50 was lifted after it was introduced in 1991 to quell criticism that the award was in danger of turning into a lifetime achievement award. Ryan and Pollard are both in their sixties.
The Turner Prize has embraced a variety of art forms, including video, performance art, textiles, architecture, and community-based art. None of the 2022 artists’ works featured painting, but Farquharson said that after a recent strong period for the traditional art medium, he expected it to reappear on future shortlists. “Painting comes and goes,” he said.
Farquharson chaired the jury with Helen Legg, director of Tate Liverpool. The other judges were: Irene Aristizábal of the Baltic Contemporary Art Gallery in Gateshead; Christine Eyene, Lecturer in Contemporary Art at Liverpool John Moores University; Robert Leckie, Director of Spike Island; and Anthony Spira, director of MK Gallery in Milton Keynes.
The exhibition will remain on view at Tate Liverpool until March 2023. It is the first time the awards ceremony has returned to the city since 2007, when it celebrated its year as European Capital of Culture.