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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 20:38 GMT 21:38 UK
Largest visual art prize unveiled
Launch of the Artes Mundi prize in Cardiff
The new prize was launched at Cardiff's museum

Wales has staked its claim to international recognition in the visual arts world with the launch of a major arts prize.

At 40,000, the Artes Mundi (Arts of the World) prize is the biggest ever award to be offered to an individual artist.

Culture Minister Jenny Randerson
Culture Minister Jenny Randerson: 'Put Wales on the cultural map'

The biennial competition will be open to artists from across the globe whose entries will in turn be shown in Cardiff at the National Museum and Gallery.

The organisers are hoping the prize will give to the arts the same kind of stature that the hugely-popular Cardiff Singer of the World has given music.

Launching the award at the city centre venue on Wednesday, Culture Minister Jenny Randerson, said: "We are used in Wales to being known for our music.

"It is a particular delight that we are now going to be known for our visual arts."

The prize would help one of the Welsh Assembly Government's ambitions to put Wales on the cultural map of the world, said the minister.

She also said the prize would be a significant contribution to Cardiff's bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Post-devolution

A shortlist from among the 12 competing cities for the title is expected later this month.

An impressive list of sponsors, including the BBC and BT, have been drawn up for the Artes Mundi award, the first of which will be handed out to the successful artist in March 2004.

A two month exhibition at the Cardiff museum featuring the seven to ten artist shortlisted for the award from all over the world will take place between February and April that year.

Before that, a selection process will be carried out by Declan McGonagle, former director of the Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, and Japanese curator Fumio Nanjo.

McGonagle said the 'landmark' project had come at ain important time- post-devolution.

Poster hoarding for the 2008 European Capital of Culture bid
The prize is a plank of Cardiff's bid for the European culture capital title

"The broad theme will enable us to look at how artists comment on their society and the human condition," he explained.

"This will culminate in an exhibition which will allow the public to explore the diversity between perceptions of familiar cultures, perhaps historically dominant cultures, as well as those that are unfamiliar."

Five judges - including Michael Tooby, the Cardiff museum's director, and Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake - will decide the winner.

Works from the Artes Mundi exhibition will also be bought for the museum itself through a 30,000 purchase fund established through a separate trust.

The entire event will also be broadcast worldwide, via a BBC partnership.

Chairman of Artes Mundi, artist William Wilkins, said the prize was " a wonderful opportunity to invest in Wales international through the visual arts."

He said he it was hoped the prize would spawn a number of legacy projects, including several of the artists being invited to teach in Wales and some linking up with galleries here.

The project was also looking for ambassadors to promote the prize worldwide.

Among those who have already signed up to the role is Antony Gormley, creator of the landmark statue the Angel of the North.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Jon Gower report
"Artes Mundi is a truly international prize"

More from south east Wales
See also:

15 Sep 02 | England
07 Feb 02 | Wales
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