Susan Philipsz has won the Turner Prize for her recording of a traditional folk song and said her “heart” was with the protesting students whose cries against the cuts could be heard over the award ceremony.
The Glasgow-born artist was handed the £25,000 prize at an event in Tate Britain, central London, and promised to spend some of the money on taking her parents on holiday.
She said: “It still hasn’t sunk in yet, I didn’t want to even think about it.
“It has been a really great experience being a nominee. It has been overwhelming the wonderful responses I’ve been getting for the work and I just didn’t expect that.”
More than 100 students from arts against cuts, who were holding a sit-in in the gallery in protest at planned changes to student fees, could not be seen by the crowd who gathered to hear Philipsz awarded the prize but their chants of “No Cuts” were audible throughout the ceremony.
Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota acknowledged their presence and said “all” were concerned by proposed cuts to arts budgets. He said: “Art should continue to be accessible to all no matter where you live or indeed whatever your wealth.”
Philipsz gave them more direct support as she accepted the prize, saying: “I support artists against the cuts.”
She recorded three versions of the song, which tells the tale of a man drowned at sea who returns to tell his lover of his death.
It was played under a series of bridges over the River Clyde in her home city of Glasgow before coming to the Tate.
The other nominated artists – Dexter Dalwood, Angela de la Cruz and The Otolith Group – each received £5,000.