Turner Prize 2022: Artist Veronica Ryan named winner at Tate Liverpool for Hackney Windrush sculptures

Veronica Ryan OBE’s poignant pieces influenced by the Windrush generation have earned the London artist the 2022 Turner Prize.

Montserrat-born, London raised artist Veronica Ryan OBE has won the 2022 Turner Prize, one of the most prestigious art awards in the world. The 66 year old became the oldest recipient of the prize, awarded for her Windrush sculpture, which was unveiled in Hackney, London, last year.

In her acceptance speech, Ryan thanked her family first and foremost, saying: “I’m wearing my dad’s hat, my dad would be so pleased, he called me big eyes when I was little. That’s fabulous. Thank you mummy and daddy. All my family. And to my siblings that didn’t survive. And I’m going to name them: Patricia, Josephine, David. They were fantastic people. And I think they’re looking at us right now. And they’re proud. And I want to thank everybody.

“I have a few people who in my career have looked out for me, when I wasn’t visible. When I collected rubbish. I collected rubbish for a number of years. But actually, some of the rubbish is some of the most important work I think.”.

The Windrush sculpture was nominated along with Ryan’s solo exhibition Along a Spectrum at Spike Island, Bristol. Her Windrush commissioned piece consisted of three sculptures of Caribbean fruits – Custard Apple (Annonaceae), Breadfruit (Moraceae) and Soursop (Annonaceae) – and used seeds as a metaphor for propagation and for the spread of viruses and pandemics.

“[Ryan is] a sculptor taking the language of sculpture and extending it in new directions” Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain and co-chair of the jury, said. “She has a long career going back to the 80s and it’s interesting to see that evolution but also this flourishing now,” he told The Guardian.

“It’s slow-burn work. What becomes evident is this elusive treatment of themes of survival, care and she’s even used the word trauma. The valuing of things, the remembering of things. It’s about nature and lived experience.”

Appearing alongside other illustrious winners of the Turner Prize, including Damien Hirst, Gillian Weaving and 2021 winners Array Collective, Ryan is the recipient of a £25,000 cash prize. The Turner Prize winner sculptures are on permanent display at Narrow Way Square on Mare Street, Hackney.