Emma Talbot has won this year's Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a prestigious award that supports UK-based female artists who have not previously had a major solo exhibition.
Awarded in alternate years since 2005, it is the only visual art prize of its kind in the UK. As the winner Talbot will spend six months in Italy on a bespoke residency planned for later this year, creating a new body of work to be shown in 2021 first at London's Whitechapel Gallery and then at the Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia.
Talbot is the eighth winner of the Prize. She was chosen from a shortlist including Allison Katz, Katie Schwab, Tai Shani, and Hanna Tuulikki, by a panel of art-world experts comprising gallerist Florence Ingleby, artist Chantal Joffe, collector Fatima Maleki and art critic Hettie Judah.
Emma Talbot lives and works in London. Her work in drawing, painting, installation and sculpture explores her personal thoughts and emotions and addresses modern concerns. Her work is often hand-drawn or painted onto silk or other textiles, and incorporates her own writing or quotes from other sources. It explores the personal as political, social politics, gender, the natural world, and our intimacy with technology and language.
Talbot's winning proposal for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women questions deeply rooted positions of power, governance, attitudes to nature and representations of women, through an acutely personal lens. It takes as a starting point Gustav Klimt's painting Three Ages of Woman (1905), which features a naked elderly woman standing in apparent shame. The painting is housed at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome and Talbot will have the opportunity to see it first-hand during her residency in Italy.
In her work for the Prize, Talbot intends to animate the figure of the older woman as someone with agency, who overcomes a series of trials similar to The Twelve Labors of Hercules. Through her modern-day trials, Talbot will invest the woman with the potential to reconstruct contemporary society, countering prevalent negative attitudes to ageing.
She said: "This prize comes at a crucial point that seems incredibly timely for me, as I have only recently begun to focus fully on my own work, having for many years taken on teaching roles to support my family, as a single parent. It will help me make the most of this major step. Just at the perfect time, this supportive and amazing opportunity to concentrate totally on my work, and undertake extended first-hand research, will be life-changing."