Rebecca Halliwell-Sutton

Rebecca Halliwell-Sutton has been announced as the winner of this year’s Woon Foundation Art and Sculpture Prize following a record number of submissions.

The Manchester student artist was awarded the £20,000 first prize last night at an award ceremony hosted by Northumbria University and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Two Northumbria University Fine Art students, Sheyda Porter and Hannah Barker, were also among the prize winners on the night.

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

This year’s finalists were selected by Christine Borland, who is a Turner Prize-nominated artist; Karen MacKinnon, Curator and Director, Artes Mundi; Laurence Sillars, BALTIC Chief Curator. Almost 300 artists submitted artwork for this year’s prize – the highest number since its launch in 2012 – with two Northumbria Fine Art students making the final shortlist for the first time.

Woon 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. I have desperately wanted to keep that momentum going, but I was really worried about how I was going to afford to continue making work now the course had ended. This prize has now given me so much freedom to fully pursue a creative path and become immersed in my art practice. The enormity of the prize is only just starting to sink in. Thank you so much for everyone involved in giving me this opportunity.”

Becca added: “The work in the show stems from personal narratives and feminist theory that I’ve been influenced by. My starting point was the idea of the matriarch as a symbol of strength and power, but I was interested in the tensions within that, with opposing elements that coexist together, such as strength and vulnerability, sensuality and the abject.”

Sarah Munro, BALTIC 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.”

She continued: “The Woon Prize is fast gaining a reputation as one the most important awards for graduates in the UK and this shortlist exhibition in BALTIC’s project space, until 31 July, is testament to that and a fascinating spotlight on a new generation of emerging artists.”

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, 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.  We had a very strong exhibition from which to select the prize-winners. Hopefully, seeing their work so beautifully installed will make all the artists feel rightfully proud of this achievement, which will be an important stepping stone in their future career.”

Woon Foundation Prize 2016

1 – 31 July 2016


BALTIC 39 presents, for the second time, the annual Woon Foundation Painting and Sculpture Prize, a vibrant exhibition by talented graduating artists from across the country. This unique and highly prestigious award, presented in partnership with Northumbria University and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, has been made possible by the Woon Foundation.

View exhibition catalogue