Margaret Harrison has won the sixth Northern Art Prize. The Wakefield-born, Carlisle-based artist was presented with a cheque for £16,500 by judge Jennifer Higgie, co-editor of Frieze magazine, at an awards ceremony at Leeds Art Gallery. Shortlisted artists Rosalind Nashashibi, Emily Speed and Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan were each awarded £1,500.

The judges, also comprising artist Tomma Abts, Margot Heller (Director, South London Gallery) and James Lingwood (Co-Director, Artangel), said: “[We] acknowledge the challenge involved in considering artists at very different stages in their careers. After much deliberation, we have decided to award the Northern Art Prize 2013 to Margaret Harrison for vital new work that reflects on her 50-year career at the front line of art and activism.”

Harrison, 72, emerged in the 1970s and is internationally recognized as a key feminist artist. For the Northern Art Prize exhibition she has shown several new pieces of sculpture, painting and drawing, under the title Reflect. The work includes Common Reflections, a development of her 2012 Berlin solo show, Preoccupy. The new installation draws on imagery from the women’s anti-nuclear peace camp at Greenham Common in the 1980s.

Speaking to a-n at the launch of the Northern Art Prize show in March, Harrison said: “There’s more interest in political art again – it comes full circle. In the 1970s it was very difficult times and people were struggling. There was very little money for artists, so we thought we’d do what we wanted. And that’s happening again. It’s exciting.”

Harrison’s work has proved popular with visitors to the exhibition, too. Since the show opened, the public have been voting for their favourite artist, and for only the second time since the prize began, they are in agreement with the judges.

The Northern Art Prize exhibition continues at Leeds Art Gallery until 16 June.

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