The John Moores Painting Prize – one of the UK’s most prestigious painting awards – has been awarded to artist Rose Wylie at the age of 80. Wylie staged an exhibition in 2013, at Tate Britain which was described as “a national treasure” by fellow artist Cornelia Parker. The artist’s paintings have begun to receive recognition in the past five years; after being belatedly discovered by the art world. The £25,000 Prize, which has been handed out in Liverpool, is Wylie’s latest accolade, and was founded in 1957.
Previous winners of the prize have included David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and Peter Doig. The John Moores Prize has no age limit; unlike the Turner Prize, in its 30th year, which excludes artists over the age of 50.
The artist creates large, vibrant images of figures, that have been described as “exaggeratedly naive” and “quasi-cartoonish”. In 2010, at the age of 76, she was chosen to represent the UK in the ‘Women to Watch’ exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. Wylie received a Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Art in 2011; which was followed by her first retrospective that opened the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings in 2012.
Wylie began studying at Folkestone and Dover School of Art some 60 years ago. But she received more attention back then as a model in an advertisement for Aero chocolate bars. The octogenarian artist won for her painting ‘PV Windows and Floorboards’, which shows figures at a private view in an art gallery. She went on to marrying artist Roy Oxlade, who died earlier this year – the artist had given up painting to raise their family; but resumed her art practice by attending the Royal College of Art while in her mid-40s.
The artist received the award during a ceremony on Friday at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. Sandra Penketh, the director of art galleries at National Museums Liverpool, said Wylie’s work was “a striking painting and a worthy winner”.
The other shortlisted artists for this year’s John Moores Prize – a part of the Liverpool Biennial art festival – were Rae Hicks, Juliette Losq, Alessandro Raho and Mandy Payne.