A final-year student at Manchester School of Art has been announced the winner of this year’s £20,0000 Woon Foundation Art and Sculpture Prize for graduating artists.

Becca Halliwell-Sutton was awarded the first prize at an award ceremony hosted by Northumbria University and held at Baltic 39 in Newcastle city centre.

Halliwell-Sutton’s winning work was inspired by Julia Kristeva’s theoretical text, Women’s Time. On receiving the award she said: “I am so completely shocked… I’ve absolutely loved my final year at university making work and I feel like I’ve gathered momentum throughout the year.

“This prize has now given me so much freedom to fully pursue a creative path and become immersed in my art practice.”

Chosen from 10 finalists, two additional prizes of £9,000 and £6,000 respectively were awarded to fellow Manchester School of Art graduate Bex Ilsley and Northumbria University student Sheyda Porter (one of five a-n members who recently took part in the degree shows takeover of the a-n Instagram).

Two discretionary prizes of £2,500 went to fellow Northumbria student Hannah Barker and Jake Grewal from University of Brighton. The total prize money awarded was £40,000.

The Woon Prize was created by Northumbria University law graduate and philanthropist Mr Wee Teng Woon along with his three brothers who together established The Woon Foundation.

This year’s finalists and winners were selected by artist Christine Borland, Artes Mundi director Karen MacKinnon, and Laurence Sillars, Baltic chief curator. The prize, originally launched in 2012, received submissions from nearly 300 final year students, its highest number yet.

As well as receiving £20,000, Halliwell-Sutton becomes the 2016 Woon Fellow and will also have access to a dedicated space in the BxNU institute at Baltic 39 for the duration of the year-long fellowship, working towards a solo exhibition at Northumbria University’s Gallery.

Baltic director Sarah Munro 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.”

The Woon Prize exhibition continues until 31 July 2016 at Baltic 39, Newcastle upon Tyne. www.baltic39.com

1. Rebecca Halliwell-Sutton Untitled, 2016, 4m x 6m x 0.30m, concrete and Fabric. Courtesy the artist.
2. Bex Isley Puerta del Cielo, 2016. Shot at Hotel Silken Puerta América, Madrid, Spain. Courtesy the artist.
3. Sheyda Porter, Idea Generating Machines, 2016, installation view

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Kayt Hughes, winner of Woon Prize 2015. Photo: North News And Pictures

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