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Tuesday, December 2, 1997 Published at 22:52 GMT


Video artist scoops the Turner Prize

A still from Wearing's 60 minutes Slience

Video artist Gillian Wearing has won this year's Turner prize and the £20,000 cheque that comes with it.

Wearing, who is 34 and comes from Birmingham, was surprised by her success. "I didn't expect this at all. I was very nervous and so I started deflating myself, because I thought I wasn't going to win."

It was "too soon" to say what she would spend the £20,000 prize money on, she said, but added: "I will hopefully make work with it."

The fact that it had been an all-woman short list this year was irrelevant, she said. "I think there are a lot of strong woman artists. They have had the most visitors ever for this exhibition. It is the art, not the gender, that's the issue."

Her winning pieces include, 60 Minutes Silence, an hour long video of police officers posing as if for a group photo and growing increasingly restless.

Her work also includes a film where a mother lip-synchs to the thoughts of her two sons and they to hers about them, in Two into One recently shown on BBC2.

Art glitterati at a prize-giving dinner at the Tate Gallery, London, saw Wearing come in ahead of bookie's favourite Cornelia Parker, whose main exhibited piece Mass (Colder Darker Matter) is the suspended charred fragments of a wooden church struck by lightning.

Other shortlisted artists were Christine Borland, 32, from Ayrshire who focuses on the human body as seen by anatomists, and Angela Bulloch, 31, from Ontario, Canada, who has exhibited an interactive beanbag sculpture and rules in case of airline emergency.

The Turner Prize is awarded to a British artist under 50 for outstanding exhibition of his or her work in the previous 12 months.

Winners have included Gilbert & George and sheep-pickling Damien Hirst. Turner Prize controversy is traditional, as in the time when 1993 winner Rachel Whiteread was also awarded an unwanted £40,000 as the worst artist of the year by pop anarchists the KLF.

Two of those shortlisted, Parker and Bulloch, were among artists protesting at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport against plans to end free entry to museums and galleries. Although she was not present Wearing has lent her support to their protest.

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