Cerith Wyn Evans won the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture with the panel of judges praising the “powerful and emotional effect” of his work.
The 60-year-old from Llanelli, in Wales, was presented with the £30,000 biennial prize at an award ceremony at the city gallery.
Mr Wyn Evans first came to attention as an experimental film-maker back in the 1980s and has since evolved to incorporate sculpture into his work.
His remarkable installation – Composition for 37 flutes (in two parts) – is the largest single artwork in the sculpture prize exhibition, which features work from all five shortlisted artists.
Made up of 37 crystal glass flutes configured into two intersecting arcs, it is suspended in the gallery space. The artist often incorporates sound into his work and here mechanical lungs power the individually pitched flutes which create an ethereal musical soundtrack.
The piece is both delicate – helped by its transparency – and at the same time robustly ‘alive’, it breathes as you walk around it.
Simon Wallis, director of the The Hepworth Wakefield and chairman of the judging panel, said: “The judges found all of the artists’ exhibitions incredibly strong and compelling in different ways, capturing the vitality of sculpture being made today.
“It was very difficult to choose an overall winner.
“Cerith has been a hugely influential artist for over thirty years, and his recent work has been truly exceptional, extending the possibilities of what sculpture can be. The work that he has made at The Hepworth Wakefield exemplifies this through its sensitivity to the site, integrating ephemeral and elemental forces to powerful emotional effect.”
The prize was launched to mark the fifth anniversary of The Hepworth and was designed to recognise the best of contemporary sculpture.
The first winner, two years ago, was Helen Marten, who went on to win the Turner Prize, helping to establish this as one of the most important art prizes in the country.
This year’s shortlist also featured fellow British-based artists Michael Dean, Mona Hatoum, Phillip Lai and Magali Reus. Work by all five artists is currently on display at the gallery and is as intriguing as it is eclectic.