Contemporary Art Society

Encouraging an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art by a wide audience and donating works by important and new artists to museums and public galleries across the UK.

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***Watch our film*** Elizabeth Price wins £60,000 Contemporary Art Society Annual Award 2013

Elizabeth Price has won the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award 2013 with the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (in partnership with the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art). Price will create a significant new moving image work for the Ashmolean which will be premiered in Oxford on completion.

Now in its fifth year, the prestigious £60,000 prize is one of the highest value contemporary art awards in the country and was presented this year by Mark Wallinger in a ceremony at the Dairy Art Centre in London on 18 November attended by artists, curators, collectors and other art world VIPs.

Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price is an artist who uses images, text and music to explore archives and collections. While her work is informed by mainstream cinema and experimental film, it is mostly concerned with the medium of digital video and its comparative ubiquity in today’s culture. Through judicious editing the artist composes the material into narratives, which shift between different archives and collections seeking to expose the links between materials that have very different histories.

Price’s commission will explore the archives and collections of the Ashmolean Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum (which cares for Oxford’s holdings of anthropology and world archaeology), looking particularly at photographs of artefacts and documents used historically by curators, anthropologists and archaeologists working in the field, while simultaneously engaging with the social and psychological implications of digital technologies. The commission, comprising a single-screen video, will present and narrate artefacts from the Ashmolean’s collection, with a focus on the female figure and the photographic and archival means of disclosing this figure over time.

Elizabeth Price said: “I’m so happy to win this prize. The very generous commission budget will enable me to make an artwork that would be otherwise impossible to realise. I’m particularly excited about the unique opportunity to work with the collections, and the people at the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums in Oxford. It is an unprecedented opportunity for me.”

Caroline Douglas, Director, Contemporary Art Society, said: “We are thrilled that Elizabeth Price has won this year’s Contemporary Art Society Annual Award in conjunction with the Ashmolean Museum, Pitt Rivers and the Ruskin. Her commission will respond directly to the long and rich history of the Ashmolean’s collection to produce a hugely significant new work – the first ever moving image work by a living artist to be acquired by the institution. At £60,000, our award presents an unrivalled opportunity for a regional museum to secure an important new work, and what an achievement for the Ashmolean to acquire a work by a Turner Prize winning artist who is so passionate about its collection and will respond so uniquely to it. In 2012 the Contemporary Art Society gifted USER GROUP DISCO to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh – this was the first work by Elizabeth Price to enter a public collection. We are delighted that her work will continue to gain visibility in museums through her new commission.”

Professor Christopher Brown CBE, Director of the Ashmolean, said: “The Ashmolean is profoundly grateful to the Contemporary Art Society for this award. It gives us a rare and unique opportunity to work with our colleagues at the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Ruskin School of Art, and an acclaimed contemporary artist on a new and challenging project. The collaboration will allow Elizabeth Price to work with the museums, the collections, and the rich archives of Oxford; and we are very excited by the work of art which the project will create.”

Mark Wallinger, Presenter of the 2013 award, said: “Having launched this exceptional award five years ago, it is my great honour to present the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award 2013 as it grows from strength to strength. At £60,000, the award deserves to be recognised as one of the most important contemporary art prizes in the country. It is a crucial mechanism through which regional museums can acquire significant new works and maintain the vibrancy of their collections. In line with the Contemporary Art Society’s mission for over 100 years, the award also supports artists who are at a stage in their careers where their work should be entering public collections nationally but very often is not. With a very high number of applications this year, it’s clear that more and more national institutions are recognising this prize as an incredibly valuable tool to benefit their collections on a long-term basis.”

Charlotte Higgins, 2013 Judge and Chief Arts Writer at The Guardian, said: “When Elizabeth Price presented her project for Oxford it immediately became clear that she was on her way to producing a thrilling artwork that will dig deep into the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers’s archives and ask some characteristically penetrating questions of the way we think about and record the past. The panel was excited by the intellectual sparks that will be fired by Elizabeth’s presence in the museums, and the curatorial, research and teaching possibilities that will flow from the work. Price is an artist who is working at the peak of her powers, but is still underrepresented in British institutions. It’s fitting that the museums of the city where she studied and now teaches should be together committed to correcting this. Above all, though, the panel just can”t wait to see what she makes.”

For all press enquiries, images and interview requests, contact:
Jenny Prytherch, Communications Manager
jenny@contemporaryartsociety.org
+44 (0)20 7017 8412


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Notes to Editors:

1. ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART SOCIETY

The Contemporary Art Society is a national charity that encourages an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in the UK. With the help of our members and supporters we raise funds to purchase works by new artists which we give to museums and public galleries where they are enjoyed by a national audience; we broker significant and rare works of art by important artists of the twentieth century for public collections through our networks of patrons and private collectors; we establish relationships to commission artworks and promote contemporary art in public spaces; and we devise programmes of displays, artist talks and educational events. Since 1910 we have donated over 8,000 works to museums and public galleries – from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times – championing new talent, supporting curators, and encouraging philanthropy and collecting in the UK. www.contemporaryartsociety.org

*PRESS BRIEFING (29 January 2014, 9am – 10am)
An exclusive press preview of our Simon Fujiwara display and an opportunity to find out about our displays and initiatives from February 2014. We will be joined by Simon Fujiwara as well as new Contemporary Art Society Director Caroline Douglas. For interview requests for Caroline Douglas, please contact jenny@contemporaryartsociety.org

Key facts about Contemporary Art Society acquisitions:

The Contemporary Art Society has donated many ‘firsts’ to museums across the country throughout its illustrious history, including the first works by Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon and, more recently, the first works by Damien Hirst, Elizabeth Price and 2013 Turner Prize nominee Laure Prouvost.

  • 1910 Contemporary Art Society makes its first purchase, Augustus John’s Smiling Woman, which was later presented to Tate in 1917
  • 1917 Contemporary Art Society gifts Paul Gauguin’s Tahitians to Tate
  • 1933 Contemporary Art Society gifts Pablo Picasso’s Flowers to Tate – the first Picasso ever to be acquired by Tate
  • 1946 The first work by Francis Bacon is purchased, Figure Study II
  • 1967 Henry Moore’s Knife Edge – Two Piece presented to the City of Westminster and permanently sited in Abingdon Street Gardens, London W1
  • 1988 Mark Wallinger’s Lost Horizon is gifted to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent
  • 1992 Damien Hirst’s Forms Without Life is gifted to Tate – the first Hirst ever to be donated to Tate
  • This year (2013-4) the Contemporary Art Society expects to place art worth in excess of £4million into public collections across the UK with the support of our patrons and other stakeholders.

2. ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART SOCIETY ANNUAL AWARD

One of the highest value contemporary art prizes in the country, the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award supports a UK-based museum or public gallery to work with an artist of their choice to commission a new work that, once completed, will remain within the museum’s permanent collection.

The £60,000 prize has a major impact on both the winning museum and their chosen artist: for the winning museum, the award allows the acquisition of an ambitious work of contemporary art of national importance, and for the winning artist (who may be showing widely nationally and internationally but whose work is not represented in collections in this country), the award is a stepping stone to greater visibility and provides access to national and international audiences.

2013 shortlist:
- Artist Elizabeth Price for the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in partnership with the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art

- Artist Jess Flood-Paddock for Birmingham Museums

- Artist Des Hughes for The Hepworth Wakefield

- Artist Lucy McKenzie for Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

2013 judging panel: Brian Griffiths (Artist), Charlotte Higgins (Chief Arts Writer, The Guardian), Elizabeth Neilson (Director, Zabludowicz Collection) and Kirsty Ogg (Curator, Whitechapel Gallery).

Previous recipients of the award: The Graves Art Gallery, Museums Sheffield (with artist Kateřina Šedá) in 2009; the Hepworth Wakefield and Wolverhampton Art Gallery (with Turner Prize nominated artist Luke Fowler) in 2010; Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery (with artist Christina Mackie) in 2011; and last year’s winners, The Collection & Usher Gallery, Lincoln (with artist Oliver Laric).

Previous presenters of the award have included Grayson Perry, Cornelia Parker and Jeremy Deller.

3. ABOUT ELIZABETH PRICE

Born 1966, lives and works in London. For full biography, click here: www.motinternational.org/elizabeth-price.html

4. ABOUT ASHMOLEAN MUSEUM OF ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY

The mission of the Ashmolean Museum is to make its collections of art and archaeology available to the widest possible audience, now and in the future, by exhibiting, preserving and interpreting its objects for study, enjoyment and inspiration, and to promote the understanding of them by teaching and research at the highest level. www.ashmolean.org

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