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Barbara Walker Makes Turner Prize Shortlist, Recognized for Series of Portrait Drawings Dedicated to Windrush Scandal

 

FOUR ARTISTS SHORTLISTED for the Turner Prize 2023 were announced today by Tate Britain. Jesse Darling, Ghislaine Leung, Rory Pilgrim and Barbara Walker are under consideration for the UK’s top visual art prize. The winner will be named on Dec. 5.

Each year, the Turner Prize recognizes British artists for exceptional exhibitions or presentations of their work. Based in Birmingham, Walker makes figurative drawings and paintings that explore political, cultural, and social issues. She was nominated for “Burden of Proof,” a series of drawings that explore the impact of the Windrush scandal. The installation is currently on view at the Sharjah Biennial 15 in the United Arab Emirates, through June 11.

 


Installation view of BARBARA WALKER, “Burden of Proof,” 2022. Sharjah Biennial 15, Old Diwan Al Amiri, 2023. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation with support of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photo by Danko Stjepanovic

 

The Windrush Generation is represented by half a million Caribbean immigrants from British colonies who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 and faced enduring racism and discrimination. About five years ago, the lives of thousands were turned upside down.

“The Windrush scandal came to light in 2018, when Britain’s news media uncovered stories about long-term legal residents from the Caribbean who were wrongly caught up in a Home Office crackdown on illegal immigrants,” the Associated Press reported. “Thousands lost jobs, homes and the right to free medical care, many because they arrived as children and couldn’t produce paperwork proving their right to live in the U.K. Some were detained, and an unknown number were deported to countries they barely remembered.”

Walker’s portraits bring attention to the scandal and consider its impact on individuals. The shortlist announcement summarized the merits and insights of her project:

    With a practice that interrogates past and present issues of racial identity, exclusion and power, Walker’s presentation explores the impact of the Windrush scandal, underlaying figurative drawn portraits with facsimiles of the documentation these individuals had to produce to prove their right to remain. The jury applauded Walker’s ability to use portraits of monumental scale to tell stories of a similarly monumental nature, whilst maintaining a profound tenderness and intimacy across the full scope of her work.

 


Artist Barbara Walker explains “Burden of Proof,” her Sharjah Biennial 15 installation that landed her on the shortlist for the Turner Prize. | Video by Sharjah Art Foundation

 

A jury selects the Turner Prize winner. Chaired by Tate Britain Director Alex Farquharson, the 2023 jury includes members Martin Clark, director of Camden Art Centre; Cédric Fauq, chief curator and head of projects at Capc musée d’art contemporain in Bordeaux, France; Melanie Keen, director of the Wellcome Collection; and Helen Nisbet, artistic director at Art Night.

Towner Eastbourne in East Sussex is hosting a group exhibition featuring the four shortlisted artists. The show will be on view from Sept. 28, 2023-April 14, 2024. A major honor in the contemporary art world, the winner of the Turner Prize will be announced at an award ceremony in Eastbourne’s Winter Gardens and receive £25,000 (about US $31,000). The other shortlisted artists are acknowledged with £10,000.

The Turner Prize was first presented in 1984. Chris Ofili was the first Black artist to win the prize in 1998. The next year, Steve McQueen received the award (1999). It would be nearly two decades before another Black artist was honored. In 2017, Lubaina Himid became the first Black woman and then-oldest artist to win the Turner Prize. She was 63 at the time. Four artists, including Helen Cammock and Oscar Murillo shared the award in 2019.

In 2022, the Turner Prize went to Veronica Ryan at age 66. Ryan and Walker share the same subject matter. A British sculptor who was born in Plymouth, Montserrat, Ryan was recognized for “Along a Spectrum” at Spike Island, her largest-ever UK exhibition, and a public art commission in the London borough of Hackney. The installation of large-scale, marble and bronze Caribbean fruits is the first public, permanent artwork in the UK to honor the Windrush Generation. CT

 

FIND MORE about artist Barbara Walker on her website

 

FIND MORE about Turner Prize jury members Melanie Keen and Cédric Fauq

FIND MORE about the Sharjah Biennial 15, which was conceived by Okwei Enwezor

 


Installation view of BARBARA WALKER, “Burden of Proof,” 2022. Sharjah Biennial 15, Old Diwan Al Amiri, 2023. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation with support of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photo by Danko Stjepanovic

 


Installation view of BARBARA WALKER, “Burden of Proof,” 2022. Sharjah Biennial 15, Old Diwan Al Amiri, 2023. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation with support of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photo by Danko Stjepanovic

 

BOOKSHELF
“Barbara Walker” is fully illustrated with texts by Paul Gilroy, Sarah Martin and Aïcha Mehrez, with an interview with the artist by Courtney J. Martin. Walker’s first monograph, the publication won the 2023 Historians Of British Art Prize for Exemplary Exhibition Catalogue. “Veronica Ryan: Along a Spectrum” was published to accompany the artist’s exhibition at Spike Island.

 

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