We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2019 Nigel Greenwood Art Prize is Harold Offeh.
Overall judges’ comment:
‘The isolated surroundings of Longformacus offer artists a rural respite and also a particular and unique environment to engage with. The judges were especially excited by Harold Offeh’s thoughtful response to this bucolic setting and his desire to grapple with its cultural and historical connotations. As he states, Offeh’s most recent body of work has been devoted to exploring the presentation of black bodies in the landscape, using popular culture as source material and challenging traditional assumptions around race and class. Offeh aims to use this sustained time in the Scottish Borders to build on and to extend these investigations. “Moving away from given stereotypes of the labouring or victimised body, the project will explore leisure, play and connections to the physical environment … I want to locate black figures in the rural British landscape as a means to create alternative narratives of national identity,” he says. By immersing himself in these hitherto unfamiliar surroundings, Offeh plans to research and develop a site-based lexicon of actions, poses, gestures, costumes and recorded sound.
We are very intrigued to see how, as he states, these interactions will then form the catalyst for a new film and/or performance work. Congratulations to all the artists: the short list was of an exceptionally high standard and we reached our decision after much spirited discussion.’
Judge Sally Shaw, Director of Firstsite:
‘Harold Offeh is an exceptional artist who manages to combine politics, place and pathos with incredible dexterity.
Deceptively simple his works take a direct approach to depicting blackness, black people and black culture in a prominent light to address historical imbalances of representation especially in popular culture.
The humour in Harold’s work is the thing that always gets me. A good joke is an incredibly elegant and generous piece of communication. Harold knows how to pull on all my preconceptions and projections to create an uncomfortable yet not unfriendly battle amongst my various conflicting and probably inappropriate thoughts that collide when viewing his work.
The thought of Harold in the Scottish borders brings all sorts of visions to mind, which of course, I’m sure Harold is pre-empting. His proposal fills me with excitement about a new body of work that will no doubt bring a very fresh perspective to this extraordinary environment that I can only see through a special and very outdated #braveheart filter. I particularly love his idea of reinterpreting Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory as part of an index of gestures and poses for a new national identity.
I wholeheartedly support Harold’s selection for the Nigel Greenwood prize and can’t wait to hear about his experiences in Scotland.’
A huge thank you to our brilliant judges for their passionate debate and generous gift of their intellect and time:
Sally Shaw, Director of Firstsite Gallery
Louisa Buck, writer
Hana Noorali, curator
Lynton Talbot, curator
Rebecca Heald, curator
Thank you to our wonderful nominators:
Giles Round, artist, nominated Patrick Staff
Tai Shani, artist, nominated Florence Peake
Richard Parry, curator and director of Glasgow International, nominated Georgina Starr
Jes Fernie, curator, nominated Harold Offeh
And finally congratulations to all four nominated artists.