Last week the Royal Academy of Arts announced that Alison Wilding has won their prestigious Charles Wollaston Award 2011. Worth £25,000, it is presented to the most distinguished work in their Summer Exhibition (Royal Academy, until 15 August 2011), and is one of the most significant art prizes awarded in the UK.
Set up in 1978, with an initial donation of £1,000 from Charles Wollaston (1914 – 1992), a lecturer in art and enthusiastic support of the RA, the award has been presented to the likes of Yinka Shonibare (2010), Richard Wilson (2009), Jake and Dinos Chapman (2003) and David Hockney (1999).
The judges this year were Phyllida Barlow, Martin Gayford, Tess Jaray and Chris Stephens. Other short-listed artitsts were: Frank Bowling, Martin Creed, James Hugonin, Gary Hume, Onya McCausland and Mimmo Paladino.
Wilding’s winning piece of work, Take a Deep Breath… is circular in form and is made from painted foam, copper and fibreglass resin. Her work offers contrasting qualities and duality, in this case a simultaneous snse of weight and immateriality.
Born in 1948 in Blackburn, Lancashire, Wilding studied at Nottingham College of Art, Ravensbourne College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art. In 1985 she had her first major solo show was held at the Serpentine Gallery, and her first international show was held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1987. In 1991 Tate Gallery, Liverpool held a retrospective on the artist and in 1992 she was nominated for the Turner Prize.
If you are interested in this artist’s work then you may want to take a look at Alison Wilding: Tracking, a beautifully illustrated book published by Ridinghouse alongside a retrospective show at Karsten Schubert in 2008, and distributed by Cornerhouse.