Artist to have first UK show after she and museum win £110k prize

Everlyn Nicodemus and National Galleries of Scotland have won the Freelands Award.

A Tanzanian-born artist whose work explores racism and the marginalisation of women has said she is “honoured” she will have her first UK museum show after winning a major art prize.

The Freelands Foundation has announced Edinburgh-based Everlyn Nicodemus and National Galleries of Scotland as the winners of the seventh annual Freelands Award.

The award is an annual £110,000 prize which enables a UK public arts institution to present a solo exhibition, including new work, by a mid-career woman artist whose work may not have previously received the recognition it deserves.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh will present Nicodemus’s first UK museum show from September 2024 to May 2025.

Everlyn Nicodemus art
The exhibition will span four decades (Everlyn Nicodemus/Richard Saltoun, London and Rome/PA)

Since the 1980s, Nicodemus has made cycles of paintings, collages and works on paper that explore violence against women, personal trauma and the isolation and dehumanisation of living within structural racism.

The artist, who was born in Tanzania in 1954, said: “I am honoured to be given the opportunity to show my work at the National Galleries of Scotland, in what will be my first museum show in the United Kingdom.

“I moved from Tanzania to Sweden at the age of 19, lived and worked in France, was a guest student at Hochshule der Kunste in Berlin, then spent 20 years living in Belgium, but Scotland is the first place that has truly felt safe and made me feel at home.

“I have now lived and worked in Edinburgh for 15 years, and yet have never had an exhibition here, so I am grateful to the Freelands Foundation for this recognition of my practice and the decades I have committed to my work as an artist.

“It is wonderful to be part of this shortlist of talented and inspiring artist nominees. To be recognised amongst my fellow women artists, when my work has for such a long time championed the under-recognised voices of marginalised women globally, is very meaningful.”

The award sees £30,000 paid directly to the artist and £80,000 to the institution to stage the exhibition.

The exhibition will open in September 2024 (Everlyn Nicodemus/Richard Saltoun, London and Rome/PA)

Over the next two years, Nicodemus will create a new series of large-scale oil paintings at her studio to be exhibited alongside historic works.

Also shortlisted for this year’s award were Fruitmarket (Edinburgh) with Zarina Bhimji, Turner = Contemporary (Margate) with Anya Gallaccio, John Hansard Gallery (Southampton) with Permindar Kaur, and Warwick Arts Centre (Coventry) with Katrina Palmer.

Sir John Leighton, director-general of National Galleries of Scotland, said: “The National Galleries of Scotland is delighted to be awarded the Freelands Award 2022 in support of a major retrospective of Tanzanian-born, Edinburgh-based artist Everlyn Nicodemus.

“Nicodemus’s extraordinary body of work has rarely been seen in the UK, and with growing interest in her practice globally, this will mark her first exhibition in Scotland.

“This extensive exhibition will span 40 years of practice and include new works specially produced for the show.

“The Freelands Foundation’s support for women artists aligns with our priority to amplify artists whose work has been historically overlooked. In this major show we aim to tell stories beyond the established art historical canon.

“Everlyn is a remarkable artist with an inspiring biography, and a conviction in the power of art as ‘universal communication between people’. We look forward to sharing her artworks and ideas with our visitors.”