image006Becca Halliwell-Sutton has been announced as the winner of this year’s Woon Foundation Art and Sculpture Prize. The student artist was awarded the £20,000 first prize last night at an award ceremony hosted by Northumbria University and held at BALTIC 39, a contemporary art hub on High Bridge in Newcastle city centre. Two Northumbria University Fine Art students, Sheyda Porter and Hannah Barker, were also among the prize winners on the night.

Becca, a final year student from Manchester, was named as the overall winner and new Woon Fellow from 10 finalists, representing some of the UK’s most prestigious arts institutions. Two additional prizes of £9,000 and £6,000 respectively were awarded to Northumbria University student Sheyda Porter and Bex Ilsley, who has sold work internationally, most notably to Miley Cyrus. Two discretionary prizes worth £2,500 went to Hannah Barker, also from Northumbria University, and Brighton’s Jake Grewal.

The combined £40,000 competition prize, supported by the Woon Foundation is equal in value to Britain’s biggest art award, the Turner Prize. The Woon Prize was created by Northumbria University law graduate and philanthropist Mr Wee Teng Woon along with his three brothers who together established The Woon Foundation.

This year’s finalists were selected by Turner Prize-nominated artist Christine Borland; Karen MacKinnon, Curator and Director, Artes Mundi; Laurence Sillars, BALTIC 39 Chief Curator. Almost 300 artists submitted artwork for this year’s prize – the highest number since its launch in 2012.

Woon Prize 2016 winner Becca, whose work was inspired by Julia Kristeva’s theoretical text Women’s Time, said: “I am so completely shocked to win the Woon Prize. I’ve absolutely loved my final year at university making work and I feel like I’ve gathered momentum throughout the year. This prize has now given me so much freedom to fully pursue a creative path and become immersed in my art practice.”

Professor Keith McIntyre, Head of Arts at Northumbria University, said: “It is a great honour for Northumbria University to work with the Woon Foundation and BALTIC 39 to host this prestigious national art competition for emerging contemporary artists. It is especially exciting this year given that two of our own graduates were among the winners in what was a highly competitive submission.”

Sarah Munro, BALTIC 39 Director, said: “I am delighted to congratulate and welcome the new Woon Fellow Rebecca Halliwell-Sutton into both BALTIC 39 and the arts community of the North East of England. I want to congratulate not only the overall winner, but all five prize winners and all 10 shortlisted artists for their contribution to this process.”

Turner Prize-nominated artist, Professor Christine Borland, who was on this year’s judging panel, said: “Looking through the record number of applications for the 2016 Woon Prize, it has been a real pleasure to see such clear evidence of the strength of young artists coming out of art departments all over the country – though the great diversity and quality of work has made the judge’s job of shortlisting, extremely difficult.”

For a video of yesterday award ceremony, please visit: https://we.tl/WOxgA4YcgC

The Woon Prize was launched in 2012 and the inaugural winner was artist Holly Hendry who completed her Fellowship in September 2014. The current Fellow is Kayt Hughes. Further information can be found on www.baltic39.com/woonprize and www.northumbria.ac.uk/woonprize