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Thursday, 3 December, 1998, 08:35 GMT
Elephant dung artist scoops award
Chris Ofili joked "Where's the cheque?"
Chris Ofili, an artist who creates his work using elephant dung, has won this year's 20,000 Turner Prize.

It is the first time in 12 years that a painter has won the prize.

The French fashion designer agnes b presented the prize. Mr Ofili joked: "Oh man. Thank God! Where's my cheque?"

Then he said: "I don't know what to say. I am just really happy. I can't believe it. It feels like a film and I will watch the tape when I get home."

Mr Ofili, 30, incorporates lumps of elephant dung in every work, including one inspired by the grief of the parents of Stephen Lawrence.

Ofili's work was favourite to win
Stephen, a London student, was murdered in a race attack. His death prompted a massive inquiry into race relations.

No Woman No Cry was created while the inquiry into the unsolved murder was being held.

It depicts a weeping black woman and Stephen Lawrence's face appears in each tear.

The figure, who wears a pendant of elephant dung, was inspired by Stephen's mother Doreen Lawrence, although it is not a portrait of her.

His colourful multi-layered paintings use glitter, photographs of leading black figures, often disguised or painted over, and his own cartoon-like characters.

Instead of hanging on the wall, each canvas is perched on two lumps of elephant dung.

At first Mr Ofili used supplies he brought back from a trip to Zimbabwe.

Now he gets it from London Zoo, and dries it out in an airing cupboard.

Mr Ofili may have been the only man in the contest and the sole painter to win since Howard Hodgkin in 1985, but he was not the only artist to raise eyebrows.

Cathy de Monchaux, 37, is a sculptor who has created her own disturbing, anatomical and religious visual vocabulary.

At the heart of her exhibition are ranks of flat tombstone-shaped lead panels with an aisle of intricate Venus fly-trap shapes through the middle.

Cathy de Monchaux's Never Forget The Power Of Tears
Cathy de Monchaux's Never Forget The Power Of Tears
Sam Taylor-Wood, 31, produces video and photographic works that conjure up a sophisticated urban world.

In Atlantic, three video projectors show three wall-sized views of a couple's tearful row, recreated by actors - with their row drowned out by an ambient soundtrack.

Tacita Dean, 32, presents Disappearance At Sea, a 14-minute film showing dusk falling over a lighthouse. It is meant to evoke the deliberate disappearance of failed round-the-world yachtsman Donald Crowhurst in 1968.

The last two years of the Turner Prize have been triumphs for video artists - Gillian Wearing won in 1997 and Douglas Gordon in 1996. Previous winners include Rachel Whiteread (1993), Anish Kapoor (1991) and Damien Hirst (1995).

The Turner Prize jury included Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant, author Marina Warner, British Council exhibition officer Ann Gallagher and Japanese curator Fumio Nanjo as well as Tate Gallery director Nicholas Serota.

The exhibition, at the Tate Gallery, continues until 10 January.

Chris Ofili: "I feel 20,000 richer"
Chris Ofili: It is important to look at it in terms of good art or bad art, not oil paint or elephant dung
Rosie Millard discusses the award on the Today programme
The BBC's Catherine Marston: "There is elephant dung on every single piece of work Chris Ofili has entered"
Rosie Millard: "a painting everyone can enjoy"
See also:

01 Jul 98 | Entertainment
From pickled sheep to elephant dung
01 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Chris Ofili profile
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