Prize-winning work of art returns 'home' to Coniston

Alistair Hudson, Yoko Sato and Adam Sutherland of Grizedale Arts with part of the ‘Wantee’ installation at the Ruskin Museum

Alistair Hudson, Yoko Sato and Adam Sutherland of Grizedale Arts with part of the ‘Wantee’ installation at the Ruskin Museum

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE ‘FA Cup’ of the art world has made its way back to Coniston with a special ‘homecoming’ exhibition on display until March.

French-artist Laure Prouvost was named the winner of the prestigious Turner Prize last month for her installation called ‘Wantee’.

Now there is a chance for members of the public to see the winning exhibition at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston. It is the first time the project has been displayed in Britain since the prize was awarded.

Alistair Hudson, deputy director of Grizedale Arts, said: “It’s like the equivalent of bringing the FA Cup back to Coniston – it is really exciting to see it back here.”

The title ‘Wantee’ comes from Lake District artist Kurt Schwitters’ partner Edith Thomas, so nicknamed by him because of her habit of asking: “Want tea?”

From that starting point, Prouvost has spun a story about her fictional grandfather, making him a close friend of the German-born Schwitters and a conceptual artist in his own right. Her grandfather has, it seems, disappeared down a hole he dug through the floor of their Lake District cottage to make his way to Africa, never to be seen again.

‘Wantee’ was made in and around Coniston with the help of local craftspeople, John Ruskin School and Coniston Youth Club and was co-commissioned by Grizedale Arts as part of the Kurt Schwitters exhibition at Tate Britain last year. Japanese artist Yoko Sato, on an internship with Grizedale Arts, was involved in making some of the pottery pieces.

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“The installation is unique because of how involved the community was in creating the work,” said Mr Hudson. “After speaking to the judges after the award was announced, that’s what made the work stand out – the community involvement, collective effort and humour of it.”

On Saturday, members of Coniston Youth Club ran a tea room in the adjacent Institute Reading Room, seemingly to raise funds for the search for Laure’s lost grandfather, along with ‘Wantee’ merchandise, teapots, tea towels and works of art to help support community based projects.

It is hoped that the exhibition will bring not just local enthusiasts to the area but also attract tourists from around the world.

Vicky Slowe, curator of the Ruskin Museum, said: “We are hoping it will be quite a coup for Coniston.”

Laure Prouvost made it to the preview on Saturday, where she was ‘engulfed’ by over 100 people wanting to see the artist and her work.

The exhibition will run until Sunday, March 9.

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