A Frenchwoman who won British modern art’s most prestigious prize has said she feels adopted by the UK.
Laure Prouvost earned this year’s Turner Prize for her video installation set in a mocked up tea party.
The film - called Wantee - by the London-based artist was lauded by judges as outstanding and moving.
The award, which earns the winner GBP25,000, was given by young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who received Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award nominations for her role in the 2007 film Atonement.
Prouvost said: “At least half of me feels British because I have been here half my life. My boyfriend is British, my daughter is both, I feel really, adopted is the right word.
“I had a wonderful education in England, with wonderful tutors and I had people who supported my work and it really grew in the UK...it was really this country who let me through and let the work develop and you need opportunities for that to happen.”
The world famous exhibition was held in the first ever UK City of Culture, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and is the first time it has been staged outside of England.
Wantee shows art work created by a central character of the film, Prouvost’s fictional grandfather, being used for domestic duties by his wife. It symbolises how an artist who dreams of his work being displayed in books and galleries loses control of it and ultimately it has an unglamorous fate in the household.
The video is a response to the artist Kurt Schwitters and opens with the question: “Would you like some tea?”
The title is Wantee because Schwitters’ girlfriend was nicknamed Wantee as she repeatedly asks “want tea”.
Four artists - Prouvost, Tino Sehgal, David Shrigley and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye - were in contention for the award.
Prouvost said she was not allowed to watch television as a child. She was asked what she would do with the prize money.
“I was going to build a big art centre for the grandfather,” she joked.
She said the visitor arts centre was to be built in the coming months, perhaps in Calais.
“Financially to be able to carry on creating this uncertainty, I am not such a commercial artist so it is wonderful for me to get this prize,” she said.
When asked to explain the film, she said members of the audience made the story by taking their own interpretation.
“As a viewer you are the work, it is how you engage and how you understand it, each of you.
“I am just hinting at things and people go away on their own.”
She revealed she keeps teabags in a golden lamp at home. “I like tea very much,” she said.
She did not expect to win, expressed surprise and said the other artists were incredible and wonderful.
“My work is more in the sub-conscious,” she added.
She wore a wrap around her neck which looked like a tea towel and had pictures of a baguette “cooked straight on the pan” and Wantee-style tea pots. She created it with children from a youth club.
“We had a lot of fun, they were incredible,” she said.
Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis, one of the judges, was pleased the jury came to a consensus.
“I think it has been very popular judging by tonight’s reactions. It is always hard to make a decision because you have four artists who already believe in and you have to choose one.
“The reason we chose it was because the judges felt very moved by it, very touched and it had really drawn them in.
“They thought it was very interesting in terms of the use of old and new material and history and also contemporary events as well.
“It was quite a weird and wonderful story that you got sucked into.”
Established in 1984, the Turner Prize is awarded to a contemporary artist under 50, living, working or born in Britain, who is judged to have put on the best exhibition over the last 12 months.
This year the galleries were in a former army barracks at Ebrington in Londonderry.
Lois Rowe, Programme Director of Fine Art, Wimbledon College of Arts, University of the Arts London, said Prouvost was a very strong candidate.
“There is a real generosity and openness in the narratives she creates and her use of language and approach to situating objects is incredibly imaginative.
“She is an exemplary artist for students to follow.”