Lakes artist wins Turner prize

The Westmorland Gazette: Laure Prouvost (second from left) learns she has won the Turner Prize Laure Prouvost (second from left) learns she has won the Turner Prize

AN artist who produced a ‘moving’ installation in South Lakeland has won one of the most prestigious awards in the art world.

Grizedale Arts joined forces with Tate Britain to co-commission Laure Prouvost’s video installation ‘Wantee’ which this week won the Turner Prize.

The 35-year-old was seen as the rank outsider from a particularly strong shortlist that included the higher-profile artists Tino Seghal and David Shrigley.

Her piece – a witty tribute to a fictional grandfather – was inspired by German painter Kurt Schwitters, who lived in Ambleside after he was exiled from Nazi Germany, from 1945, until his death in 1948.

Schwitters’s move to the Lake District culminated in the creation of his last great sculpture and installation, the Merz Barn near Elterwater.

Prouvost’s installation was set in a dark, muddy room at Grizedale Arts which formed part of the Schwitters in Britain exhibition at Tate Britain.

‘Wantee’ features a range of pottery and tea sets, and is named after Schwitters’s girlfriend, who got the nickname as she was always asking visitors whether they “want tea?”

Laure constructed a shed at the Grizedale Arts Centre and shot the film that merges fact and fiction. She was awarded the £25,000 prize by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan at a ceremony in Londonderry, Northern Ireland and she was clearly taken aback when her name was read out.

“I wasn't expecting it at all,” said Laure. “I thought, ‘It can’t be me,’”

The jury, chaired by the Director of Tate Britain Penelope Curtis, said that Laure’s work was “unexpectedly moving” and praised its “complex and courageous combination of images and objects in a deeply atmospheric environment”.

The artist worked over a period of months in Lawson Park, Coniston, involving local artists such as Peter Hodgson, of Ambleside, and Coniston Youth Club who helped to build the set.

The youth club also travelled to Derry, the UK City of Culture, at the weekend to work with the artist and served tea to the crowds who had been queuing around the block to see the show.

Alistair Hudson, deputy director of Grizedale Arts, said: “We are so pleased Laure has won the Turner Prize with this project.

“In many ways she was an outside bet, but in the end it seems the jury were won over by this strange, moving and funny and accessible piece of storytelling.

“Laure’s project was especially rewarding because it was such a collective effort, between us, the artist and our colleagues at Tate, local artists and craftsmen.”

* Laure’s Turner Prize show will feature in a ‘homecoming’ exhibition at the Ruskin Museum, Coniston, on January 24.

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