Stephen Sutcliffe and Graham Eatough Win The £40,000 Contemporary Art Society Annual Award 2015

23 November 2015 By
Stephen Sutcliffe and Graham Eatough with Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA). Image: Tom Horak
Stephen Sutcliffe and Graham Eatough with Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA). Image: Tom Horak

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, with Stephen Sutcliffe and Graham Eatough (in partnership with LUX) have won the Contemporary Art Society Award 2015. Sutcliffe and Eatough will create a film based on the first and last chapters of Anthony Burgess’ Enderby novels, premiering for the centenary of the author’s birth in 2017.

The £40,000 prize, generously supported by the Sfumato Foundation, is one of the country’s highest value contemporary art awards and this year was presented by artist Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA).

The commissioned two-part film will explore the cultural figure of ‘the artist’, and ideas of authenticity and posterity through theatrical performances and filmic collage. It will contrast the idea of the artist as remembered culturally with the nervousness and uncertainty of the actual lived experience, a recurring theme in both Sutcliffe and Eatough’s work. Burgess, best known (to his distaste) for his novel A Clockwork Orange, was himself preoccupied with how artists are remembered and the Enderby novels deal with these themes throughout.

Anthony Burgess also has a connection to the Whitworth: his biography recounts that when growing up in Manchester’s Moss Side he was ejected from the gallery for “sucking on the marble breast of a Greek goddess”. The film will form a centrepiece of celebrations in Manchester during a year of national commemorative centenary events in 2017 that include exhibitions, plays, performances of Burgess’s music, and new published editions of his novels, poetry and journalism.

Stephen Sutcliffe, Artist, said:
Receiving the CAS Award is not just a means to realising a new work, which we are very excited about, but is also a seal of approval from an organisation and judging panel that we both respect enormously. We are indebted to the efforts of The Whitworth and LUX and look forward to working with them and our other associates, Glasgow International and Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.

Michael Archer, Panellist, said:
This is an ambitious, exciting collaboration between two artists for this film commission by the Whitworth Art Gallery. The panel felt that the award will support a notable shift in both artists’ practice, bringing together a large number of creative partners. Through film, theatre, literature and collage techniques the new work will address perennial questions about the figure of the artist and ideas of authenticity and posterity.

Caroline Douglas, Director, Contemporary Art Society, said:
The proposal stood out as a project we all want to see, for its inventiveness and genuine connections to Manchester through author Anthony Burgess. We are delighted to be supporting these artists at what appears to be a moment of significant development in their careers and to enable the commission of a work whose themes will resonate with the Whitworth’s existing collections.

Maria Balshaw, Director, The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, said:
We are delighted and extremely proud to be working with Graham Eatough and Stephen Sutcliffe, in partnership with LUX, on this clever, humorous and ambitious commission. Together Graham and Stephen will highlight the work of a great, but unsung, Mancunian hero, Anthony Burgess, in a film work that will use the city where he grew up and studied as set, prop and cast.

For all press enquiries please contact:
Marcus Crofton, Communications Manager, Contemporary Art Society
+44 (0)20 7017 8412
Notes to Editors:
The Contemporary Art Society champions the collecting of outstanding contemporary art and craft in the UK. Since 1910 the charity has donated thousands of works by living artists to museums, from Picasso, Bacon, Hepworth and Moore in their day, through to the influential artists of our times. Sitting at the heart of cultural life in the UK, the Contemporary Art Society brokers philanthropic support for the benefit of museums and their audiences across the entire country. Their work ensures that the story of art continues to be told now and for future generations.

One of the highest value contemporary art prizes in the country, the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award for Museums 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 £40,000 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.

Applications are welcomed from museums that have not yet commissioned new work as well as from those with more experience. The award is open to all museums in the Contemporary Art Society’s Museums Membership network and artists anywhere in the world. £1000 is made available to all short-listed museums to work up the detailed proposal including the artist’s time and contribution.

Previous recipients of the award include: The Graves Art Gallery, Museums Sheffield (with artist Kateřina Šedá) in 2009; the Hepworth Wakefield, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Film and Video Umbrella (with Turner Prize nominated artist Luke Fowler) in 2010; Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery (with artist Christina Mackie) in 2011; The Collection & Usher Gallery, Lincoln (with artist Oliver Laric) 2012; Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in partnership with the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art (with artist Elizabeth Price) in 2013 and last year’s winners: Harris Museum and Art Gallery (with artist Nathaniel Mellors).

Stephen Sutcliffe and Graham Eatough with The Whitworth, part of The University of Manchester, in partnership with LUX.
Glasgow based artist Stephen Sutcliffe (b.1968, Harrogate) creates film collages from an extensive archive of British television, film, sound, broadcast images and spoken word recordings which he has been collecting since childhood. Graham Eatough is a theatre maker who also works in visual arts and film. Having co-founded Suspect Culture Theatre Company in 1992, Graham was Artistic Director and Chief Executive. During this time Graham directed and occasionally performed in fifteen productions for the company which gained an international reputation for high-quality, innovative new work. The Whitworth proposes to commission a new collaborative film combining Sutcliffe’s interests in British literary and popular culture of the 1960’s and 1970’s with Eatough’s ongoing exploration of theatricality in the creation of meaning in contemporary culture. Within the context of The Whitworth, these themes would take on a very specific meaning through exploring the artist as a cultural figure and raising ideas around authenticity and posterity by linking theatrical performance and irreverent humour. Working with LUX to ensure national and international exposure, Sutcliffe and Eatough’s commission would inevitably reflect upon the contents of the collection in which their work would eventually reside as well as continue to support The Whitworth’s commitment to collecting new media. This collaboration would also open up research opportunities across the disciplines of performance, film and theatre.

Annie Fletcher (Chief Curator, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven)
Annie Fletcher is currently Chief Curator at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and tutor at De Appel, Amsterdam. She recently curated Forward! (2015) at the Van Abbermuseum, which is artist Ahmet Öğüt’s most ambitious exhibition to date. Other projects include Hito Steyerl (2014), David Maljkovic (2012) and Out of Here (2011). Additionally, Annie curated the 2012 Eva International Biennial of Visual Art in Limerick, Ireland titled After the Future. As a writer she has contributed to various publications including Afterall and Metropolis M and was on the editorial board for the magazine A Prior. She was co-founder and co-director of the rolling curatorial platform If I can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution with Frederique Bergholtz (2005-2010), and co-curated the series of long term projects, Be(com)ing Dutch (2006-09) and Cork Caucus (2005) with Charles Esche.

Polly Staple (Director, Chisenhale Gallery)
Polly Staple has been the director of the Chisenhale Gallery, London, since 2008. She was formerly director of Frieze Projects in association with LUX and Ian White; responsible for curating the artists’ commissions programme including Frieze Talks and the Artists’ Cinema; curator at Cubitt Gallery, London; and co-editor of Untitled magazine. Additionally, Staple has also written for a range of catalogues and publications; she was formerly editor-at-large of frieze magazine and continues as a contributing editor. Staple was a judge for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women (2010-2011) and the Turner Prize (2010). Over the years Polly has produced solo projects and exhibitions with artists including Ed Atkins, Jeremy Deller, Anthea Hamilton, Martha Rosler, Hito Steyerl and Lucy Skaer. In 2014, Polly was awarded the Genesis Prize in which the prize money was used to commission four emerging UK based artists at the Chisenhale Gallery. Polly has been a regular tutor and lecturer at a range of art colleges. She was recently a studio tutor for MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London, and is currently the external examiner for the MA Curating the Contemporary at London Metropolitan University/Whitechapel Gallery and BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Michael Archer (Critic and Professor of Art, Goldsmiths)
Michael Archer has been a critic and writer on modern and contemporary art since 1979 with work appearing multiple journals, including Artforum, Art Monthly, Frieze and Parkett, and in numerous catalogues. He is the author of Art Since 1960 (Thames & Hudson 1997/2002, new edition forthcoming), and contributed the later chapters on modern and contemporary art to Hugh Honour and John Fleming’s A World History of Art (Laurence King 2009). In addition to a study of Jeff Koons’ One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank in the Afterall One Work series (2011), Michael has recently written on Miroslaw Balka, Dexter Dalwood, Helen Marten, Keith Tyson, Liam Gillick, Eva Rothschild, Cerith Wyn Evans, and the Politics of Minimalism. Michael has taught as a Professor of Art at Goldsmiths College since 2009 and has extensive experience as a tutor and lecturer at a range of art colleges including Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art & Design and the Slade School of Fine Art. Michael also regularly provides Supervision of PhD and MPhil students at Royal College of Art, Wimbledon School of Art, Oxford University and Goldsmiths College and gives regular public lectures and gallery talks.

Haroon Mirza (Artist)
Haroon Mirza was born in London in 1977, where he lives and works. Haroon has won international acclaim for installations that test the interplay and friction between sound and light waves and electric current. He combines a variety of readymade and time based material to create audio compositions, which are often realised as performances, site-specific installations and kinetic sculptures. Solo exhibitions include The New Museum, New York (2012), The Hepworth, Wakefield, UK (2013) and Haroon Mirza/hrm199 Ltd. at Museum Tinguely, Basel 2015 and a forthcoming collaboration with Wayne McGregor for Paris Opera and an exhibition at the Nam June Paik Art Center in Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, also in 2015. Haroon Mirza was the recipient of the Silver Lion for a promising young artist at the 54th Biennale in Venice in 2011. The Contemporary Art Society acquired Mirza’s work A Sleek Dry Yell (2008) through The Sculpture Fund supported by Cathy Wills in 2011 and it is co-owned by: Manchester City Galleries, Whitworth Art Gallery, Grundy Art Gallery, Victoria Gallery & Museum and the Walker Art Gallery. He is represented by Lisson Gallery.