Oscars. BAFTAs. Oliviers. Turner Prizes. Dozens, hundreds, of awards for poetry, literature, film, documentaries, music and more. Our students, alumni and staff don’t just excel in their fields, they redefine them. Their work is recognised and applauded across the world. Here we look back on the Goldsmiths community’s most high-profile and recent award wins.
This isn’t the first year more than half the Turner Prize nominees were Goldsmiths graduates or teaching staff. In 2000 and 2002, three of the four shortlisted artists were Goldsmiths alumni.
“As an art student learning basic film-making skills at Goldsmiths,” wrote the Guardian’s Vanessa Thorpe of artist and director Steve McQueen, “he joked he was already aiming for the time when his name would eclipse that of his glamorous namesake”.
McQueen took the Turner in 2009, then became the first person in history to win both Turner Prize and Oscar, picking up the award in 2013 – as well as a BAFTA and Golden Globe - for 12 Years A Slave.
Just a year after graduating from our BMus Popular Music, singer-songwriter and musician Katy B was nominated for more than a dozen top awards, from MOBOs to Q Awards to the Mercury Prize in 2011. James Blake made the Mercury shortlist in the same year, and won in 2013. Eska was nominated in 2015. Sam Lee in 2012. Blur’s Graham Cox and Alex James in 1994 and 1999.
From pop hits to the West End
The Olivier-award-winning composer responsible for the critically acclaimed War Horse, Coram Boy, and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time scores, is a Goldsmiths graduate. This year we made Adrian Sutton an Honorary Fellow as well.
And taking a Tony for the lighting in both War Horse (2011) and The Curious Incident (2015) was fellow graduate and now Honorand Paule Constable (BA English and Drama, 1989).
In November we paid tribute to the late, great, Oscar-winning screenwriter, graduate and Honorary Fellow Colin Welland.
Winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1982 for Chariots of Fire and a BAFTA for his role in Ken Loach’s Kes, Welland once said that his work usually championed “the individual against the system – one man’s effort to break through what is usually expected of them”.
It’s a statement that could apply to so many of the people who work at, study in, and graduate from Goldsmiths.
This year has been another laden with success
Alumna Zoe Pilger (MA Comparative Literary Studies, 2010, and current PhD Media and Communications candidate) won a 2015 Betty Trask Prize, Rosie Rowell (MA Creative and Life Writing, 2014) and her editor Emily Thomas took the 2015 Branford Boase award for children’s novel Leopold Blue, and Ely Dagher (MA Image and Communication, 2009) was awarded the Palme d’Or for his short animated film Waves ’98 at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Department of Media and Communications has also enjoyed a vintage year
Two radio students scooped prizes at the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) Student Journalism Awards for their work producing features for radio.
Two teams from the MA Journalism course came first and second in at a nationwide magazine award, while MA Digital Journalism students received Guardian Student Media Awards: Student Multimedia Journalist of the Year 2015 for Kara Fox, with David Blood as runner-up. MA Digital Journalism’s Marta Portocarrero took the same prize last year.
Staff achievements have been recognised
Department of Psychology lecturer Keon West was awarded for his work improving the lives of LGBT people in Jamaica, despite the huge personal costs that work involved.
The Wolfson History Prize, the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, the Society for Military History’s 2015 Distinguished Book Award, the British Army Military Book of the Year: The Department of History’s Alex Watson scored an incredible number of literary prize wins for the compelling Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War, 1914-1918. And that’s on top of being named Sunday Times 2014 History Book of the Year.
Kate Miller – who has both worked and studied at Goldsmiths – has been nominated for a Costa Book Award for her poetry, and Department of Art lecturer Marion Coutts took home the prestigious Wellcome Book Prize for her memoir, The Iceberg.
Media and Communications’ filmmaker and lecturer Mark Aitken took the jury award at the Scottish Mental Health Film and Arts Festival for his globally acclaimed documentary Dead When I Got Here, and department colleague Steve Boggan was nominated for a travel writing award for his hands-on investigation into the new California gold-rush.
With more than 1,900 entries this year, the annual Bruntwood Prize for playwrights is hugely competitive, so it’s even more impressive that two of this year’s five winners were graduates from our MA Writing for Performance.
Elsewhere in the world of stage and screen, Cyril Nri (MA Television Drama, 1997) took home 2015’s Attitude Actor of the Year Award, given out by Europe's most popular gay magazine. He also appeared at number 10 on this year’s Rainbow List, alongside addiction expert and alumna Sarah Graham (BA Anthropology and Communication Studies, 1993) at number two.
And in the Department of Computing, our incredible game designers were named winners of the Ukie Student game jam for the second year in a row, beating competition from university teams across the UK.
Not content with just winning prizes, we’ve created our own to honour the writers creating work encapsulating the Goldsmiths ethos: bold, creative, daring. Opening up new possibilities. Breaking the mould.
The Goldsmiths Prize, now in its third year, was awarded to Kevin Barry for Beatlebone, “a novel that takes its reader to the edge – of the Western world, of sanity, of fame, of words … to the very edge of the novel form”.
That’s just a snapshot of this year’s incredible success stories. There were many more and, we’ve no doubt, many more to come.
On Monday 7 December, Assemble - the architecture collective chosen by Goldsmiths in 2014 to design a new art gallery on campus - were announced as winners of the Turner Prize 2015. Shortlisted artists this year were Goldsmiths Department of Art lecturers Bonnie Camplin and Janice Kerbel (Kerbel is also an alumna – MA Fine Art, 1996), Assemble, and Nicole Wermers.