This is a big year for the British artist Helen Marten. Not only has she been nominated for the 2016 Turner Prize but she has been awarded the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. The winner was announced at an award ceremony at The Hepworth Wakefield this evening. The £30,000 prize, which recognises a British or UK-based artist of any age, at any stage in their career, who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture, was presented to the artist by Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer of Burberry.
Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield and chair of the judging panel said: “Helen Marten is one of the strongest and most singular voices working in British art today. Her refined craft and intellectual precision address our relationship to objects and materials in a digital age. We believe that Marten is a fitting winner of the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, which celebrates the legacy of one of Britain’s finest sculptors.”
The jury thanked the shortlisted artists for their outstanding contributions to the exhibition. Helen Marten was born in 1985 in Macclesfield. She studied at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, University of London and at Central Saint Martins in London. Marten’s recent solo exhibitions include Parrot Problems in Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany (2014) and Plank Salad at the Chisenhale Gallery in London (2012), and her work was included in the 2015 Venice Biennale. Marten has been shortlisted for the 2016 Turner Prize, and currently lives and works in London.
The exhibition, which runs until 19 February 2017, is the most ambitious ever mounted by the gallery. It features work by all the shortlisted nominees and reflects the wide range of sculptural practice taking place in the UK today.
The members of the judging panel comprised five leading international commentators within the field of visual arts: Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director of Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea and GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino Sir David Chipperfield, architect and designer of The Hepworth Wakefield, Sheikha Hoor al-Qasimi, President Sharjah Art Foundation, Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, President of The Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, collector and patron of the arts and Alastair Sooke, art critic and broadcaster.
The Prize was created to celebrate the gallery’s 5th anniversary during 2016. Significantly, it is named after Barbara Hepworth, one of Britain’s greatest sculptors and arguably its most celebrated female artist, who was born and brought up in Wakefield. The Hepworth Wakefield has the largest number of works by the artist on permanent display anywhere in the UK.
Sophie Bowness, art historian and granddaughter of Barbara Hepworth, said: “The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture is a fitting legacy for Barbara Hepworth, one of Britain’s greatest sculptors, whose career was enhanced through a variety of awards from early in her professional life.”
Christopher Bailey, who presented the award said: “I am so proud to have been a part of such a special evening, and I am so excited for not only Helen Marten on winning the first ever Hepworth Prize for Sculpture but also for the rest of the incredibly talented nominees. Their work on display at The Hepworth Wakefield is a shining example of their creativity and outstanding contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture in the UK.”
Sculpture is the art form of the moment – and the new Prize aims to demystify contemporary sculpture. Visitors to the exhibition have been encouraged to experience, debate and judge the Prize for themselves. The shortlist is multi-generational and covers the widest range of work in the medium.
The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture is supported by the following individuals: Linda Bennett, David Liddiment and David Roberts.