Max Mara Art Prize 2nd Edition: 2007 - 2009

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The launch of the second edition (2007-2009) of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, was announced on 8 June 2007 at the British Pavilion of the 52nd Venice Art Biennale. The panel of judges, chaired by Iwona Blazwick, director of Whitechapel Gallery, included Rachel Withers, art critic; Cornelia Grassi, gallerist; Cornelia Parker, artist; and Judith Greer, collector.

The shortlist was announced in October 2007 as Yasmeen Al Awadi, Georgie Hopton, Melanie Jackson, Lisa Peachey and Hannah Rickards.

Following the jury’s review of the shortlisted artists’ proposals, Hannah Rickards was announced as the winner at a special gala dinner held at the Italian Embassy in London in January 2008. The artist realised her project over the course of that year, during periods of residency at the American Academy in Rome and the Pistoletto Foundation in Biella. This residency, in addition to the financial provisions of the prize (also supported by the National Lottery, by way of Arts Council England) allowed her to dedicate over a year to researching and developing her new work, which was presented in London in 2009 at the recently expanded Whitechapel Gallery, and later in Reggio Emilia at Collezione Maramotti, which then went on to acquire the work.


Born in Hammersmith, London, in 1979. Hannah Rickards lives and works in London. She completed a BA (Hons) in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2002. Rickards – the youngest of the shortlisted artists – is a conceptual artist, and sound is the primary medium in which she works. Nature and artifice are closely intertwined in her work. Her sound installations often consist of the appropriation of a sound that occurs in nature, and then of its reinterpretation in terms of language or music. In 2015 she was awarded with the Leverhulme Prize (Visual and Performing Arts category), which recognises the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising.


Rickards’ two-screen film – No, there was no red. – is based on spoken accounts of a mirage of a city seen to hover over Lake Michigan as the result of a rare atmospheric phenomenon of thermic inversion. The subjective differences, as well as the affinities, echoes and counterpoints of these reports form the core of the piece, allowing for an exploration of the ways in which this natural occurrence is experienced and described. Text is an integral part of Rickards’ work, and reveals the influence of such early Conceptual artists as Douglas Huebler, Robert Barry and Lawrence Weiner.

The exhibition opened at Whitechapel Gallery, London: 5 – 23 September 2009 before touring to Collezione Maramotti: 24 October, 2009 – 31 October, 2010

The work was loaned to Modern Art Oxford in 2014 for the show Hannah Rickards. To enable me to fix my attention on any one of these symbols I was to imagine that I was looking at the colours as I might see them on a moving picture screen.

Image Credit: Hannah Rickards, No, there was no red, Whitechapel Gallery, 2009