The winner of this year’s Evening Standard Art Prize has said it was an “amazing opportunity” to launch her career.
Iman Sidonie-Samuels won for her work 3049 Calls, 19,401 Minutes, made from 81 paper phone bills collected from her grandmother’s house in St Lucia.
The student, specialising in sculpture at Central Saint Martins, said winning felt like “an out-of-body experience”. She said the work documented the “personal relationship” between her grandmother, who lived on the Caribbean island, and her in London.
She added: “I think as I made it I did recognise this situation wasn’t unique to my family. A lot of families from the Windrush era stayed but a lot also moved back to their respective home countries and there was this relationship across the ocean between two islands. I knew it would resonate with that second and third generation who had to travel back and then come back to London.” She said the “unexpected win” was an opportunity to reach a wider audience and believes her grandmother would be proud.
She said: “I thought at first, what would she think as I was making it in my room, and what would she think of my entering it and what would she think now I have won, but of course she would be proud of me. She always used to tell me ‘focus on your studies, don’t be distracted’ and she would always give me little speeches of encouragement and I feel she would probably tell me the same thing now.”
The shortlisted works were on show at Cromwell Place. The venue’s chief executive and artistic director Helen Nisbet helped choose the winner alongside artists Aowen Jin and Bisila Noha, ES Magazine editor Ben Cobb and the prize partner, Frédéric Malle. Nisbet said Sidonie-Samuels’s work was “like an oral history”.
“A grandparent can be so intrinsically be part of us and who we are and we almost don’t know that until they’ve gone,” she added. “This work really resonates and holds that very important reality.”
Sidonie-Samuels was one of 12 shortlisted artists chosen from hundreds who applied for this year’s prize. The theme of the prize, launched in association with perfume brand Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle, was “a portrait of you” and artists were asked to submit work celebrating self-expression and the way individuality and personality is shown through their artform.
Sidonie-Samuels won the £5,000 prize, plus a bespoke fragrance experience by Frédéric Malle. The shortlisted art will be displayed at Cromwell Place until Sunday.