The 2012 Turner Prize has been awarded to Oxford University lecturer and Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Dr Elizabeth Price.
The newly appointed Fine Art lecturer at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art received the prize at Tate Britain this week for the twenty-minute video installation, ‘The Woolworths Choir of 1979’. The piece was part of a solo exhibition which was displayed at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead earlier this year.
The piece depicts a fire at a Woolworths in Manchester in 1979 which killed ten people and makes use archival video footage, photographs, music and text. It was developed while she held the Arts Council England Helen Chadwick Fellowship at the University of Oxford and British School at Rome in 2010-11.
The Bradford-born artist studied at the Ruskin School in the 1980s and took up the position of University Lecturer in Fine Art in October alongside the 2013 Venice Biennale exhibitor Corin Sworn.
Ruskin student Lucy Mayes explained the effect of Price’s work, “The video is made up of three apparently dissimilar constituent parts: church architecture, choreography from the 1960s girl band The Shangri-Las, and archival footage from the fire. She bridges them persuasively by figuring out etymological, figurative, semiotic and semantic references which glide the imagery on easily to a kind of crescendo.”
Head of the Ruskin School, Dr Jason Gaiger told Cherwell, “I am thrilled for Elizabeth, whose work demonstrates the vitality of contemporary art practice and its ability to address themes of enduring social significance. The seriousness and technical virtuosity of her film-making is exhilarating and I am delighted that her recent achievements have been recognised through the award of Britain’s most prestigious art prize.”
He added, “Elizabeth is an inspirational teacher, who has made invaluable contributions at both undergraduate and graduate level. She is taking a leading role in the further development of the Ruskin School, including the launch of a master’s programme and the integration of Fine Art research into the wider academic community.”
Students and staff at the Ruskin School have remarked on the positive repercussions of Dr Price’s achievement for the School. Dr Gaiger told Cherwell, “The high visibility of the Turner Prize shows what young artists can achieve and it has generated considerable excitement in the School.”
Ruskin student Lucy Mayes described Dr Price’s artistic success as “a path to follow and a legacy to aim for.” She added, “To me she has found a poignant and distinct voice and a way of working that is contemporary and distinctly new. It is admirable that she has found her voice, as it is the ultimate in what as artists we endeavour for.”