Artistic Leeds partnership in the running for prestigious art prize


The University of Leeds has been shortlisted for one of the country's most valuable contemporary art awards.

Working with artist Katrina Palmer and the Henry Moore Institute, the University’s Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery is one of just four in the UK in the running for the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award 2015.

The award is given to a museum or public gallery so it can commission a major new artwork for its permanent collection from an artist not yet well represented in British museum collections.

The partnership hopes to devise a commission for Katrina Palmer focusing on the University’s public art collection. Palmer, who creates sculptures using words, could create an audio artwork, creating the University’s first non-object campus work, connecting its stunning buildings to its public art.

Layla Bloom, Curator of the Gallery, which is located in the University’s iconic Parkinson Building, said: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted. Our recently unveiled sculpture by rising star Simon Fujiwara has underlined the University’s commitment to public art on its campus – work that can be enjoyed by everyone, at any time.

“Being able to commission such an excitingly innovative artist such as Katrina would enhance this commitment and also contribute to our efforts to add more work by women artists to the Gallery’s collection.”

The Henry Moore Institute, which is the curatorial partner for the University project, will host a major solo exhibition by Katrina Palmer from December, titled The Necropolitan Line. 

Lisa Le Feuvre, Head of Sculpture Studies at the Institute, said: “Katrina Palmer writes about objects, reformulating sculpture’s association with the body. Her sculptures take the form of books, readings and recordings, with each work rethinking the limits of sculpture. 

“The opportunity to work with the University of Leeds on a commission for their collection of art on campus is an incredible opportunity for the Henry Moore Institute to demonstrate the power of sculpture. Katrina’s work is the forefront of new sculptural thinking, and we are honoured to be working with her.”

The other nominees are: 

• Pablo Helguera with the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

• Ragnar Kjartansson with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Artes Mundi

• Stephen Sutcliffe and Graham Eatough with The Whitworth, part of The University of Manchester, in partnership with LUX

To find out more about the finalists, see

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London’s Barbican Centre on Monday 23 November. British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA) will present the award. Now in its seventh year, the award is supported by the Sfumato Foundation.

Christine Takengny, Curator, Museum Acquisitions at the Contemporary Art Society, said: “The Contemporary Art Society Annual Award provides the rare opportunity for our member museums to commission an entirely new artwork for their collection and the shortlisted museums this year all propose to develop a new and rewarding working relationship with the artist they put forward. 

“The selecting panel was excited by the interdisciplinary nature of much of the proposed work and the ambition of all the artists and museums to push their practice in a new direction to develop a work that will become of national significance.” 

The award jury is made up of Annie Fletcher (Chief Curator, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven); Polly Staple (Director, Chisenhale Gallery); Michael Archer (Critic and Professor of Art, Goldsmiths College) and Haroon Mirza (Artist).


Further information 

Image courtesy of Katrina Palmer and MOT International London & Brussels.

For interviews, contact Gareth Dant, University of Leeds Press Officer, on 0113 3433996 or

Press enquiries about the awards should be directed to Marcus Crofton, Communications Manager, Contemporary Art Society on 020 7017 8412 or email

Contemporary Art Society

The Contemporary Art Society champions the collecting of outstanding contemporary art and craft in the UK. Since 1910 the charity has donated thousands of works by living artists to museums, from Picasso, Bacon, Hepworth and Moore in their day, through to the influential artists of our times. Sitting at the heart of cultural life in the UK, the Contemporary Art Society brokers philanthropic support for the benefit of museums and their audiences across the entire country. Their work ensures that the story of art continues to be told now and for future generations.

Contemporary Art Society Annual Award for Museums

One of the highest value contemporary art prizes in the country, the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award for Museums supports a UK-based museum or public gallery to work with an artist of their choice to commission a new work that, once completed, will remain within the museum’s permanent collection.

The £40,000 prize has a major impact on both the winning museum and their chosen artist: for the winning museum, the award allows the acquisition of an ambitious work of contemporary art of national importance, and for the winning artist (who may be showing widely nationally and internationally but whose work is not represented in collections in this country), the award is a stepping stone to greater visibility and provides access to national and international audiences.

Applications are welcomed from museums that have not yet commissioned new work as well as from those with more experience. The award is open to all museums in the Contemporary Art Society’s Museums Membership network and artists anywhere in the world. £1000 is made available to all short-listed museums to work up the detailed proposal including the artist’s time and contribution. 

Previous recipients of the award include The Hepworth Wakefield and Wolverhampton Art Gallery (with Turner Prize nominated artist Luke Fowler) in 2010.

The Henry Moore Institute

The Henry Moore Institute is a world-recognised centre for the study of sculpture in the heart of Leeds, Yorkshire. An award-winning exhibitions venue, research centre, library and sculpture archive, the Institute hosts a year-round programme of exhibitions, conferences and lectures, as well as developing research and publications, to expand the understanding and scholarship of historical and contemporary sculpture. It is a part of The Henry Moore Foundation, which was set up by Moore in 1977 to encourage appreciation of the visual arts, especially sculpture.

Katrina Palmer

Katrina Palmer (b. 1967) creates sculptures out of words. Her sculptures take the form of installations, books, readings, and recordings, and she creates immersive environments that draw on history, literature and systems that produce knowledge. 

Palmer lives and works in London, where she studied sculpture at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art.  Often her works take the form of books: The Dark Object (Bookworks, 2010) is a series of connected stories about power relations in a fictional art school, while The Fabricator’s Tale (Bookworks, 2014) is series of tense and violent short stories in twisted narrative structure that parodies the form of a novel. Palmer was awarded the 2013 Artangel Open Commission, for which she created End Matter (2015), presented on the Isle of Portland (Dorset) and on BBC Radio 4.

In Autumn 2015 she will present her first museum commission at the Henry Moore Institute, The Necropolitan Line.