Max Mara Art Prize 7th Edition: 2017 – 2019

Helen Cammock, Che si puo fare, 2019. Video still. Helen Cammock


London based artist Helen Cammock (b. 1970) was chosen as the winner of the 7th edition by a panel of expert judges comprising gallerist Vanessa Carlos, Carlos/Ishikawa, London; artist and previous recipient of the prize Laure Prouvost; collector Marcelle Joseph and art critic Rachel Spence, chaired by Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery. Cammock’s fellow shortlisted artists were Céline Condorelli, Eloise Hawser, Athena Papadopoulos and Mandy El-Sayegh.

Cammock’s bespoke residency began in May 2018 and was divided between six Italian cities Bologna, Florence, Venice, Rome, Palermo, and Reggio Emilia. A key focus was meeting with experts, scholars, associations, institutions and communities in areas of interest to Cammock, overseen by a local tutor for each area city.


Helen Cammock was born to an English mother and Jamaican father in 1970s Britain. She received her B.A. in Hons Sociology at the University of Sussex and a BA in Hons (First Class) Photography at the University of Brighton. After that, she completed her MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art.
Cammock works across moving image, photography, writing, poetry, spoken word, song, performance, printmaking and installation. She is interested in histories, storytelling and the excavation, re-interpretation and re-presentation of lost, unheard and buried voices. She uses her own writing, literature, poetry, philosophical and other found texts, often mapping them onto social and political situations. Her artistic practice has developed out of her experiences working with individuals and communities and continued awareness of collective society. In 2019 she was listed as one of the most influential artists in the UK, and in the same year she won the Turner Prize, together with Oscar Murillo, Tai Shani and Lawrence Abu Hamdan.


Her winning proposal for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, Che Si Può Fare focuses on an expression of lament. Reflecting a central aspect of her work; she explores the role of the voice and the feeling of mourning or loss, resilience and survival, across the political, historical, individual and collective. Cammock wanted to explore how emotion is expressed in Italian culture and society, with a particular focus on opera, classical and folk music, art, poetry, writing and dance. She explored hidden female voices across Italian histories, aiming to create through collage, layering and juxtaposition a collective lament reflective for our own time.
The finished work was first presented at the Whitechapel Gallery: 25 Jun – 1 Sep 2019, and then at Collezione Maramotti: 13 Oct 2019 – 8 Mar 2020.

Image Credit: Helen Cammock, Che si può fare, 2019. Video still © Helen Cammock