MANCHESTER, UK.- Liverpool artist Paul Rooney was last Wednesday night announced as the first winner of the £10,000 Comme Ca Art Prize North 2003, thought to be the largest financial prize offered by a UK commercial gallery.
The 36 year old from Walton could not be at the announcement as he is currently artist-in-residence at an arts centre in Havana, Cuba. However, organisers asked him to record a victory message to be used in case he won, and so he accepted the inaugural prize from former Turner Art Prize winner Chris Ofili in a video - his chosen medium.
Rooney produces video, sound and performance works often using interviews with people about their everyday experiences in the course of their jobs, and sets these experiments to music.
His winning entry of a three minute DVD film entitled Flat 23: ‘Living Room, ‘Main Bedroom’ and ‘Second Bedroom’ featured three people speaking simultaneously about each room and its décor and their lifestyles within those rooms.
He beat off competition from a shortlist of four other artists, including duo Cake and Neave from Sale, Greater Manchester, Richard Talbot from North Shields, Tyne and Wear, Sunderland’s David Mackintosh and Matthew Houlding from Todmorden, West Yorkshire.
The jury, of Lewis Biggs, Director of Liverpool Biennial; Sune Nordgren, Director of Baltic, The Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; and Carol Maund, Director of Site Gallery, Sheffield, were unanimous in their decision praising Rooney’s work.
Chair of the jury, Stephen Snoddy, said: “Paul Rooney’s ‘Flat 23’ engages the audience through a multi-layered visual and sound work. It brings together the voices of the family of ‘Flat 23’ who, through a meditative chant, remember and describe their residence and departure.
Paul Rooney’s work is often made in collaboration with communities and focuses on everyday experience. This is a work of remarkable imagination, eloquence, honesty and integrity.”
Rooney, said he was delighted to be the first winner of the prize, which was set up for artists living and working or who have exhibited in the North, by Comme Ca Art’s Director and gallery owner Claire Turner.
Via video link he said: “I would like to thank a few people – Comme Ca Art for setting up the prize, the judges for selecting me and the other artists – particularly the artists I have met who are all nice people! I am really chuffed to get the award and would like to thank the people I have worked with or collaborated with over the years. Thank you.”
The art prize, which was launched in February and enjoyed over 300 entries, was awarded in association with wallpaper manufacturers Graham & Brown.
Comme Ca Director Claire Turner, said: “The response was excellent. The shortlist was made up of wonderful talents and these, together with Paul’s winning entry, will help the Comme Ca Art Prize achieve its aim of bringing the art, artists and galleries associated with the North of England to a wider audience.
All shortlisted work will now be shown as part of the Finalists’ Exhibition, which will run from October 9 to November 23 at the Comme Ca Art Gallery, Timber Wharf, 24 Worsley Street, Castlefield, Manchester.