Heather Phillipson Nabs the 2016 Film London Jarman Award

Despite her win Phillipson's upcoming works won't be made in celebration.

Heather Phillipson, True to Size (2016) commissioned for the Arts Council Collection’s 70th Anniversary. Installation views at Plymouth Arts Centre. Courtesy the artist, the Arts Council Collection and Steve Tanner
Heather Phillipson, True to Size (2016) commissioned for the Arts Council Collection’s 70th Anniversary. Installation views at Plymouth Arts Centre. Courtesy the artist, the Arts Council Collection and Steve Tanner

As of yesterday, Heather Phillipson and her poodles are officially “best in show.” Film London announced that the British multimedia artist is this year’s recipient of the Jarman Award, a prestigious prize that celebrates experimentation, innovation, and imagination in contemporary, UK-based video artists. Along with taking home a £10,000 prize, Phillipson has additionally secured a commission to produce work for Channel 4’s “Random Acts” short-films program, alongside her fellow nominees.

Phillipson, who is as much a poet as she is a visual artist, is known for creating works that are nothing short of hypnotic immersions. Her films are primarily structured by self-authored poems that she reads as an audio overlay for collaged, moving imagery and text, and are often installed with equally dramatic sculptural components through which viewers must participate, walk, or even climb.

Having been named a Next Generation Poet in 2014 and the Writer in Residence at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 2015, it comes as no surprise that Phillipson’s video work is dactylic, composed with a vibrant “sense of pacing and rhythm as you might expect from someone who is also a poet and musician,” according to Adrian Wootton, Film London’s Chief Executive.

As seen in her recent piece, 100% OTHER FIBRES, in which explosive, anti-gravitational poodles are met with fecal matter and chaotic sounds, Phillipson’s works are deftly borne through her keen eye for the world around her, abstractly grappling with relationships such as that between humans and animals. In light of recent global events, particularly the US presidential election, her work only promises to more complexly, and in her words, furiously, give viewers a glimpse at life through her personal lens.

“My work often deals with anxieties of the present moment,” she said to the Guardian, “But I think [it] has got more and more angry and overtly political. Looking back at my old work, there was a lovely innocent time when I could make a video about French kissing. Not that it was really that, but I didn’t have to think about fascism, that it was on my doorstep.”

To stay tuned with Heather Phillipson’s imminent works and view a selection of existing ones, visit her website or Vimeo.


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