Liverpool Audio-Visual Star Rooney Wins Northern Art Prize

By Culture24 Staff | 16 January 2009
Paul Rooney standing over a television in shadowy blue lighting

Paul Rooney has been announced as the winner of the second Northern Art Prize. Pic © Jonny Harris

Liverpool’s audio-visual master of melancholy, Paul Rooney, has been announced as the winner of the second annual Northern Art Prize.

Rooney’s pair of works, contemplating the fallibility of memory around notable world events and visits to public attractions, beat competition from fellow Liverpudlian Imogen Stidworthy, Leeds artist Clare Charnley and Saltburn’s Richard Forster to reap the £16,500 award.

Paul Rooney looks up at a video of his on a big screen

Northern Art Prize winner Paul Rooney. Pic © Simon Warner

La Décision Doypack, his 27-minute short, animates an Australian salesman’s deal clinching trip to Paris during the 1968 riots in the city and a son’s tribute to his father killed in a military coup in Chile in the 1980s.

Lost High Street follows a lone tourist on a guide bus weaving through Edinburgh, channelling different narrative visions into a gritty, conceptual take on diacritic storytelling.

Perhaps key for Rooney is his accessibility, often drawing on everyday realism with a style and wit the judges felt was “inventive, energetic and eclectic.”

A man looks at various cards in a picture of Paul Rooney's La Decision Doyback film

La Décision Doypack, Paul Rooney. Commissioned by Matt's Gallery and Radar, Loughborough

It’s taken a battering in some quarters – the Guardian’s Alfred Hickling rather grouchily accused Rooney of poor humour and “banal, low-budget movies” in a damnation of his recent work at Tate Liverpool. But, given his admirable determination to evocatively juxtapose elements of sound and memory, there could be little argument with the quintet of adjudicators’ description of his status as a “fresh, original voice in today’s Northern art scene.”

The ceremony was hosted at Leeds Art Gallery, where work by the finalists will now be shown until February 1 2009. Councillor John Procter, of co-organisers Leeds City Council, said it was “an honour” for the city to host the prize.

A woman presents a prize to Rooney on a stage with a microphone

Paul Rooney is presented with the Northern Art Prize by judge Georgina Starr. Pic © Jonny Harris

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