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Youngest ever winner of Northern Prize

artpHaroon Mirza of Sheffield won the Northern Prize, with a sum of £16,500 last night. Mirza, only 33, is the youngest artist to ever be awarded the prize, and the first from Yorkshire. Mark Lawson, author and broadcaster, as well as judge for last year’s Northern Art Prize, gave the announcement to 700 people in Leeds.

Mizra was especially surprised winning the award this year, since last year he had only placed among the top 23, rather than the final four.

“This was really my year,” he said. “I was a nervous wreck, because your sitting on pins and needles up to the point when they call your name. It’s frightening.”

The Sheffield artist’s work, Anthemoessa, integrates Islamic elements, such as the call to prayer, azaan, with both The Siren, a 19th century painting by Edward Armitage, and Greek myth. The presentation includes sound, image, and light.

The artist explained, “In this I question the organization of religion and how it is related to the experience of death. The answers are not there, but only the questions. That’s why I work.”

The NAP was established to encourage artists that they do not have to be sucked into London’s gravity in order to find prominence in the art world. Pippa Hale, a Leeds artist, was the founder. Now it is obvious that the respect for the NAP is quickly growing.

Mirza beat out his colleagues, Lubaina Himid, Alec Finlay, and David Jacques. However, Himid took the popular vote, counted on the Net from the opening day of the exhibition two months ago.

The exhibition will run at the Leeds Art Gallery up to the 6th of February.

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