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Sculptor Helen Marten vows to share inaugural Hepworth Prize with other nominees

Published 17/11/2016

Dr Sophie Bowness is the granddaughter of Barbara Hepworth
Dr Sophie Bowness is the granddaughter of Barbara Hepworth

Helen Marten has been awarded the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture and immediately said she would share the £30,000 prize with the other three nominees.

Marten, who is also nominated for December's Turner Prize, picked up the new biennial prize at a ceremony at The Hepworth Wakefield where she told guests about her plan to split it with Phyllida Barlow, Steven Claydon and David Medalla.

She then told BBC Radio Four's Front Row: "To a certain extent I believe, as I said on stage, in the light of the world's ever lengthening political shadow, that the art world has a responsibility, if not to suggest a provisional means forward, then at least show an egalitarian platform of democracy and I believe the hierarchical position of art prizes today is, to a certain extent, flawed.

"I'm flattered to be there anyway and I would be very happy if they accept to share the prize amongst the four of us."

Marten said: "I'm lucky enough to be here and to be given a visible and audible platform to be doing what I'm doing and the fact that I'm supported by an enormously generous infrastructure of other artists, critics, curators, galleries is enough for me

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 Hepworth Prize was set-up to recognise a UK-based artist of any age and at any stage in their career who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture.

It was presented by Christopher Bailey, c hief creative and chief executive officer of Burberry, who 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."

Marten, 30, who is originally from Macclesfield, Cheshire, studied at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, University of London and at Central Saint Martins in London.

Her recent solo exhibitions include Parrot Problems, in Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany, in 2014, and Plank Salad at the Chisenhale Gallery, in London, in 2012.

The Hepworth Prize was created to celebrate the gallery's fifth anniversary and is named after Barbara Hepworth, 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."

The exhibition of all the nominees for the award runs until February 19 2017.

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