2 December 2013
Last updated at 15:34 ET
Laure Prouvost’s installation Wantee featured in the Schwitters in Britain exhibition at the Tate Britain
Installation artist Laure Prouvost has won this year’s Turner Prize for her piece Wantee, which takes the audience in search of her fictional grandfather.
It was announced by actress Saoirse Ronan at a ceremony in Londonderry, the UK City of Culture 2013.
Prouvost beat humorous artist David Shrigley, painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and performance artist Tino Sehgal to take the £25,000 prize.
“I’m not ready, I didn’t expect it at all,” Prouvost said on stage in Derry.
“Four incredible artists here with me and the show. I thought it can’t be me, I was sure it was not me. So thank you everybody,” she said, as actress Ronan brought her young baby daughter onto the stage.
The French artist, who lives and works in Britain, thanked organisers for accepting her into the art scene.
“Thank you for adopting me, thank you for having a French one here,” said Prouvost, 35, who also won the fourth Max Mara art prize for women in 2011.
“I’ve been here so many years and I feel adopted totally now by the UK, thank you.”
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You can’t really be a surprise winner in a shortlist of four, but I think it’s fair to say the general feeling had been it was a two-horse race – between Tino Sehgal and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
To that extent, Laure Prouvost being given the award shows that the Turner Prize still has the capacity to be unpredictable.
There is no question that her work is extremely atmospheric. You could describe her installation as a cross between a Santa’s grotto and an old junkshop, but that is not to say it doesn’t have its own merits and provocations.
Her intention is to present work designed to confuse because she believes misunderstanding makes us use our imagination more. That in itself is an interesting thought.
Judges said Prouvost’s piece, which was commissioned for this year’s Schwitters in Britain exhibition at Tate Britain, was “unexpectedly moving” and “outstanding for its complex and courageous combination of images and objects in a deeply atmospheric environment”.
It explored the lasting legacy of artist Kurt Schwitters through her fictional grandfather, who she had imagined to be a conceptual artist and one of Schwitters’s close friends.
Named Wantee, in honour of Schwitters’s companion who had a habit of asking “Want tea?”, it featured a table set for a tea party alongside the film.
“This was an incredible project that grew,” said Prouvost at Monday night’s ceremony.
“We’ve had to create stories where fiction and reality get lost. I hope my granddad’s hearing us now, down there in the tunnel – there might be ways.”
Previous winners of the Turner Prize include Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and video artist Elizabeth Price, who took last year’s award.
French artist Laure Prouvost said she felt “totally adopted by the UK”
It was established in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art and is given to a British artist under 50, who judges believe has put on the best exhibition of the last 12 months.
Works by all four shortlisted artists have been on display in the grounds of an old army barracks at Ebrington for the past month, the first time the annual art event has been held outside England.
This year’s jury was chaired by Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis and includes the curator Annie Fletcher and the writer and lecturer Declan Long.
Each of the other shortlisted artists will receive £5,000.
The Turner Prize exhibition is on display at the Ebrington Barracks until 5 January.