Freelands Award 2023: Shortlist For £110,000 Prize Announced

Freelands Award

The Freelands Foundation has announced the five visual arts organisations and women artists under consideration for the eighth Freelands Award. Founded in 2016, the annual prize enables a UK arts organisation to present an exhibition, including significant new work, by a mid-career woman artist who may not yet have received the acclaim or public recognition that her work deserves.


Ain Bailey – Camden Art Centre
Imogen Stidworthy  – Chapter
Christina Mackie Goldsmiths – CCA
Becky Beasley – QUAD
Joy Gregory – Whitechapel Gallery

The ive organisations and artists from across the UK are in contention for the prize of £110,000, awarded to an exhibition which will take place in the next three years. The award includes an allocated £30,000 fee for the winning artist. The four runner-up organisations will also each receive £10,000 towards their programmes.
The winner of the Freelands Award 2023 will be announced on 29 November 2023 following selection by a jury including Elisabeth Murdoch (Founder and Chair, Freelands Foundation), writer Olivia Laing, curator Elinor Morgan (Artistic Director, MIMA) and artist Ingrid Pollard (winner of the Freelands Award 2020).

Left: Christina Mackie Right: Imogen Stidworthy

Camden Art Centre, north London, is shortlisted for the first major solo exhibition by sound artist, DJ and composer Ain Bailey (b. 1963, London, UK) in early 2026. Reflecting Bailey’s ongoing interest in activism and architectural acoustics of urban spaces, this major new site-specific commission will build on her deep listening sessions and workshops, developing sonic autobiographies which respond to sites and communities of resistance.
On her nomination, Bailey said “To be nominated for the Freelands Award, at this point in my career, is a truly seismic moment. I’m still a bit shook at being shortlisted, if I’m honest. The precarious artist life is a real and difficult thing. The nomination also, importantly, promotes the visibility of women and artists from diverse backgrounds and that is to be applauded. I’m very much looking forward to working with Camden Art Centre on a new project whatever the outcome of the award.”
Martin Clark, Director of Camden Art Centre, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted with Ain Bailey for this award. Despite the importance of her work, she has not yet had a major solo exhibition focussing on her extraordinary practice and reflecting on its increasingly urgent and expansive themes.”

Chapter, Cardiff, will present in 2025 a new body of immersive, multi-channel video and sound work by Imogen Stidworthy(b. 1963, London, UK). Exploring the concept of crisis, Stidworthy will draw on dialogue with patients and therapists, as well as field and embodied research, to explore radical therapies and mental health today.
Stidworthy said: “Being shortlisted for the Freelands Award is an exciting gesture of support, which comes at an especially valuable moment for me, as I begin developing a new direction in my practice. Making a major solo exhibition is a rare opportunity, which is always a sea change. It’s a galvanising process that pushes my practice on all levels.”
Hannah Firth, Co-Director and Artistic Director of Chapter, said: “We’re delighted to be shortlisted for the Freelands Award 2023 and for the opportunity to work with Imogen Stidworthy. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to collaborate with artists who articulate how we might view the world through different lenses, opening up the possibility for a more equitable society.”

Goldsmiths CCA, south-east London, is working with artist Christina Mackie (b. 1956, Oxford, UK) on a significant presentation in early 2025. Over four decades, Mackie has investigated the material and natural world through site-specific and intuitive sculpture, painting, video, photography, installation and ceramics. New works for the show will respond to CCA’s unique spaces, informed by intense periods of research with academics within the broader university, as well as student and community groups.
Mackie said: “I am proud to be shortlisted for this prize and have been inspired to see the accomplishments of previous Freelands Award winners extended and deepened through these exhibitions. I would value the opportunity to join these esteemed women in consolidating my decades-long practice in a solo exhibition at Goldsmiths CCA.”
Sarah McCrory, Director, Goldsmiths CCA, said “This award allows an artist a rare moment of freedom from the pressure of time, to have a moment of reflection, or recalibration, or to realise ideas left in suspension.  It will allow the CCA to be enveloped by Christina’s practice over a prolonged period and, most importantly, to celebrate Christina Mackie and her fantastic work.”

Becky Beasley
Becky Beasley

QUAD, Derby, is shortlisted for a solo exhibition with Becky Beasley (b. 1975, Portsmouth, UK) in 2025–6, the artist’s most ambitious to date. A large-scale linoleum floor work will run across six ‘chapters’ that present sculpture, photography, ceramics, video and an installation speculating on the cultural implications of Beasley’s statistical life expectancy (54 years) as an independent autistic adult.
Beasley said: “As a late-diagnosis autistic female artist and keen advocate for better understanding of neurodiversity in the arts, this nomination offers an ideal platform to highlight the joys of being a bit different, of not fitting in, of being weird, queer…and of the intersectional obstacles both I- and so many others- experience each day. The opportunity to take up public space and contribute positively and progressively to culture is the greatest privilege and my deepest joy.
Peter Bonnell, QUAD Arts Programme Manager, said: “QUAD is thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Freelands Award this year. We are equally thrilled to be working with and supporting Becky Beasley – a singular artist of such high calibre. From my personal viewpoint as an autistic leader in the creative sector, it is also equally important to support artists who identify as neurodivergent – such as Becky.”

Freelands Prize
Joy Gregory

Whitechapel Gallery, east London, will present in autumn 2025 the first major exhibition of work by artist Joy Gregory (b. 1959, Bicester, UK), whose work and teaching has influenced generations of younger artists and the development of photography in the UK.  Alongside key works from four decades, a new commission will reflect her ongoing research into collective memory, cultural preservation and traditional knowledge systems.
Gregory said: “I am so very proud, and grateful, to be nominated for this important award. My journey has been one of exploring photography’s vast possibilities, pushing its boundaries, playing with its many forms, to create a rich and intricate visual language of my own, which I use to tell overlooked stories, bridge communities, and offer diverse perspectives on the world.”
Gilane Tawadros, Director, Whitechapel Gallery, said: “We are delighted to have been nominated for this year’s Freelands Award, further enabling us to present the first major exhibition of the extraordinary UK-based artist and photographer, Joy Gregory, and bring her work to wider public attention. Long overdue, the exhibition will present work from across four decades, alongside a new commission, and will surely cement her legacy as a leading figure in contemporary British and International art.”

Top Photo:  Ain Bailey  Photos Courtesy Freelands Award 2023

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