On the 2nd of December in Derry, Northern Ireland, artist Laure Prouvost was announced as the winner of the 2013 Turner Prize, for her video installation work Wantee. Wantee was created with Grizedale Arts and co-commissioned with Tate, for inclusion in the Tate’s Schwitters in Britain exhibition in 2013. The work was made in and around Coniston with the help of local crafts people, the John Ruskin School and the Coniston Youth Club.
The title Wantee is drawn from Kurt Schwitters’ partner Edith Thomas, so nicknamed due to her habit of asking, "want tea?” From here Prouvost spun a story about her fictional Grandfather, described as a close friend of Schwitters and also a (less recognised) conceptual artist in his own right. Staged within his now desolate living room, as installed in the Grizedale Arts gardens, the film tells the tale of her Grandfather; his struggles to maintain a reputation and his battles with his wife, who would like to see his sculptures do something more useful.
However her Grandfather has, it seems, disappeared down a hole - dug through the floor of their Lake District cottage to make his way to Africa, never to be seen again.
After winning the Turner Prize, the exhibition came to The Ruskin Museum in Coniston, staged as a reappraisal of Provost’s Grandfather’s work. The installation featured a new work by Laure Prouvost made with Grizedale Arts and pupils of the John Ruskin School, as well as proposals for a new large-scale visitor centre dedicated to his legacy. The exhibition also featured original works by Kurt Schwitters on loan from the Lakeland Arts Trust collections at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, and artefacts from the Merz Barn site in Elterwater.
As a central tenant of the exhibition, members of Coniston Youth Club ran a tearoom in the adjacent Coniston Institute Reading Room. Wantee merchandise, teapots, tea towels and works of art were made in the village and sold during the exhibition. The merchandise is also available on the Wantee website and webshop.
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