Veronica Ryan wins Turner Prize for evocative sculptures

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Sculptor Veronica Ryan after being announced the winner of the Turner Prize at St George’s Hall in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Artist Veronica Ryan has won the prestigious Turner Prize for work that transforms materials including fruits, seeds and volcanic ash into elusive and evocative sculptures.

The Montserrat-born British artist was awarded the 25,000-pound ($30,000) prize at a ceremony in Liverpool, England on Wednesday evening. She won for work including public sculptures in London’s Hackney area in the shape of tropical fruits – custard apple, breadfruit and soursop — that honor the contribution to Britain of post-World War II immigrants from the Caribbean.

“Better late than never,” said Ryan, who at 66 is the oldest artist ever to win the prize.

The Turner Prize judges praised the “personal and poetic way she extends the language of sculpture” through found and often forgotten objects and materials including fruits, plants, seeds and volcanic ash from the Caribbean island where she was born.

Work by Ryan and three other finalists is on display at the Tate Liverpool museum in northwest England until March 19.

Named for 19th-century landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, the award was founded in 1984 and helped make stars of potter Grayson Perry, sculptor Anish Kapoor, shark-pickling artist Damien Hirst and filmmaker Steve McQueen.

But it has also been criticized for rewarding impenetrable conceptual work and often sparks debate about the value of modern art. In 2019, all four finalists were declared winners after they refused to compete against one another. Last year all five finalists were collectives rather than individual artists. The 2021 winner was the 11-member Array Collective from Northern Ireland.

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