Ulster Graduate Wins Turner Prize

Listen to Susan Philipsz's award-winning piece in 'Lowlands' video

University of Ulster graduate Susan Philipsz has become the first sound artist to win the Turner Prize for Modern Art, receiving an award of £25,000 for her sound installation piece 'Lowlands Away'.

Philipsz, who uses her own voice to create the uniquely evocative installations, recorded three separate versions of the 16th century traditional folk song which tells the tale of a man drowned at sea returning to tell his lover of his death. For the past two months the installation has been playing in an empty room at Tate Britain but was first performed beneath three bridges over the River Clyde in Philipsz's native Glasgow as part of her Surround Me project.

Philipsz, now based in Berlin, completed a Master of Fine Art at Ulster’s Belfast campus in 1994 before embarking on her early career at Belfast's Catalyst Arts Centre in Belfast. She was one of four artists in the running for the prestigious art prize, with works included a painting of the scene where scientist David Kelly died, a collection of broken canvasses laid on top of each other and a series of films.

Alister Wilson, MFA Course Director at the Univeristy of Ulster taught Philipsz during her time in Belfast. 'The Master of Fine Art course at the University is no stranger to success in relation to international art prizes in general and the Turner Prize in particular, having been responsible for six individual nominees from the body of staff and alumni over the life of the competition. Susan Philipsz however has become the first alumnus to win the £25,000 prize outright. We are very proud of the record of our past students in this prestigious international showcase and Susan’s nomination and ultimate success is particularly sweet.'

Wilson added: 'This success justifies the unequivocal approach to professional practice and international research which the MFA course aims to foster. We always encourage students to think strategically in relation to developing a career pathway and in Susan’s case in particular this award is the result of years of hard work in the development of the art and her professional profile.

'All of those associated with the Master of Fine Art at Ulster - both past and present - are delighted at this news today and I am sure that there is more success to come.'

The prestigious win underscores the artistic reputation of the University’s School of Art and Design, which boasts a further five Turner Prize nominees among its alumni and staff.

Willie Doherty, a Professor of Video Art in the School of Art and Design, has been nominated twice for the Turner Prize in 1994 and 2003; former lecturer Declan McGonagle was nominated in 1987; Christine Borland, a sculptor, was shortlisted in 1997, video artist Phil Collins, was nominated in 2006, and sculptor Cathy Wilkes, was shortlisted in 2008.

Philipz work is in the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain until January 3.

Topics