Corin Sworn has been announced as the winner of this year’s Max Mara Art Prize for Women, presented in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery. The Glasgow-based Canadian artist is the fifth winner of the prize which was founded in 2005. The previous winner of the biennial award was Laure Prouvost, who went on to win the 2013 Turner Prize.

Sworn, who was one of three artists representing Scotland at the 2013 Venice Biennale, was chosen from a shortlist featuring Beatrice Gibson, Melanie Gilligan, Judith Goddard and Philomene Pirecki. Her prize is a six-month residency in Italy starting in March. The residency will provide an opportunity to develop her winning proposal, culminating in solo exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery and Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 2015.

Sworn’s residency will be divided between Rome, Naples and Venice and will include extensive research into the relationship between Commedia dell’Arte and Italian cinema. The six months will finish in Venice, where Sworn will have access to the libraries and archives of Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa, founded in 1898 and home to one of the oldest artist residency programmes in Europe.

Sworn said: “It means such a great deal to me to be able to work with the Collezione Maramotti and the Whitechapel Gallery on a new commission. The promise of six months in Italy has inspired a host of ideas for new work and I look forward to being able to develop these over the course of my time in Rome, Naples and Venice.

“I have great admiration for all the artists involved with the prize and feel honoured to be a part of this award that highlights some of the most remarkable women artists working today.”

Vivid storyteller

The judging panel for the prize was chaired by Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick and included Pilar Corrias, director of Pilar Corrias Gallery; Candida Gertler, founder and director, Outset Contemporary Art Fund; Runa Islam, artist; and Lisa Le Feuvre, Head of Sculpture Studies, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds.

On announcing the winner, Blazwick said: “[Corin Sworn] is a vivid storyteller and the judges were swept away by her proposal inspired by the 16th century Italian Commedia dell’Arte travelling theatre troupes, woven together with oral histories. We can’t wait to see the impact of the residency on her scripts and filmmaking and anticipate a wonderfully dramatic installation at the Whitechapel Gallery with the jostling atmosphere of costumes and props backstage at the theatre.”