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Studying at Reading allows me to develop my interests, says Turner Prize judge – University of Reading

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Studying at Reading allows me to develop my interests, says Turner Prize judge

Release Date 04 December 2012

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One of the four judges of the 2012 Turner Prize, the UK's most prestigious contemporary art award, has spoken about his role as a judge and why he has gone back to University at this point in his career.

Andy Hunt, Director of Focal Point Gallery, is currently completing his PhD at the University of Reading's Department of Art.

Talking about the Turner Prize, he said; "The prize profiles the best art coming out of Britain, and though it receives its share of criticism, it inspires debate, which is why it remains so important."

"It was very flattering to be asked to be a judge. We had a year to see as many solo exhibitions as possible, then met in April to determine the four shortlisted artists. The four artists this year are interesting because they are all fairly equal in their profiles and strengths as artists. People have said it is a really strong exhibition this year, which I'm proud of."

The winner of the Turner Prize was revealed as Elizabeth Prize, at a ceremony on 3 December at Tate Britain in London, presented by actor Jude Law and broadcast on Channel 4.

Andy said his experience as one of four judges was 'difficult' but said he had learnt a lot.

"In a way it was a shame to have to choose one winner, because all the shortlisted artists were really good and there was a massive generosity of spirit between all the artists," he said. "I don't know why Elizabeth Price was seen as an outsider. We just chose the best exhibition."

He said her work, The Woolworths Choir of 1979, 2012, a video installation which referenced a tragic fire at a Manchester department store that killed 10 people, both 'broke new ground in video work' and also showed the strength of well-researched use of archive material.

Susanne Clausen, Head of the Department of Art at the University of Reading said: "Andy Hunt is a very established and prolific curator, and has turned the Focal Point Gallery from a small provincial public gallery into an important international art platform, which is why he was chosen to become a judge of the Turner Prize.

"The fact that Andy Hunt has chosen to do his PhD at the University of Reading, is a reflection of the quality and currency of the research we do here. The University has long standing links with the Turner Prize through Art department alumni such as Mike Nelson, Cornelia Parker and Richard Wilson, who have been nominated in previous years. Andy being selected as one of this year's four judges is a big boost to the Department, and exciting for both students and staff alike."

On his return to education, Andy reflected; "One of the benefits of coming back to university is it gives you a thoroughly generous space in which to do your research. It's one of the times you can start to feel a little bit selfish about what you want, and give yourself time to learn about, and research things that you're really interested in. You suddenly have a 3-4 year period to spend researching a subject you are passionate about.

"Doing a PhD has given me time to develop myself as an academic, and to see myself having the opportunity to have an academic career, as well as having a practical curatorial career working for art galleries."

Andy Hunt works with students at Reading, giving lectures and supporting them in his role as a curator and gallery director. Many Reading students are Involved in the programme at Focal Point Gallery, through events, or contributing to publications.


For all media enquiries please contact Donna Sibley or Pete Castle, University of Reading press office, on 0118 378 7388/7391 or by email on or

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Notes for editors:

The University of Reading's Department of Art comprises the former long established departments of Fine Art and History of Art. It has a shared history with its origins in the Reading School of Art, established in 1860 the founding school of the present University.

It has developed a distinctive approach to Art through a combination of practice, theory and history. All of the academic staff are actively engaged as artists, researchers, historians and curators. Its special strengths lie in exhibition history and curatorial practice, in artists' writing and in theoretical and historical approaches to art.

Art at Reading has illustrious alumni from artists Walter Sickert and Terry Frost to Turner Prize nominees Mike Nelson, Cornelia Parker and Richard Wilson.

More about Art at Reading >>>

The �25,000 Turner Prize is presented to an artist under 50, living, working or born in Britain for an outstanding exhibition in the previous 12 months. More details >>>

Focal Point Gallery is South Essex's gallery for contemporary visual art, promoting and commissioning major solo exhibitions, group and thematic shows, a programme of events including performances, film screenings and talks, as well as offsite projects and temporary public artworks.

The organisation currently produces up to seven gallery exhibitions each year with an accent on the experimental and visionary use of lens-based media, in which artists and curators are given a platform to make new work in response to the gallery's unique location on the second floor of Southend Central Library. More details >>>

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