Author and Goldsmiths, University of London Lecturer in Fine Art, Marion Coutts has been awarded the £30,000 Wellcome Book Prize 2015 for 'The Iceberg', her memoir on art, work, death and language.
The announcement was made by acclaimed author and Chair of Judges, Bill Bryson, at a special ceremony on Wednesday 29 April in the Wellcome Collection's new Reading Room.
'The Iceberg' is an exploration of the impact of death in real time, 'a sustained act of looking that only ends when life does'. In 2008, the art critic Tom Lubbock, Marion’s husband, was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The tumour was located in the area controlling speech and language, and would eventually rob him of the ability to speak. He died in early 2011.
Bill Bryson says of the book: "From an extremely strong shortlist of books that blend exquisite writing with scientific rigour and personal experience, 'The Iceberg' stood out. Marion Coutts' account of living with her husband's illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed. Reading it, you have the sense of something truly unique being brought into the world - it stays with you a long time after."
Simon Chaplin, director of culture and society at the Wellcome Trust, called The Iceberg “immensely powerful” and “written with astonishing candour and pulsing with raw emotion”.
Marion Coutts graduated in 1986 from the Edinburgh College of Art with a BA in Fine Art, before attending the State School for the Arts, Poland between 1989-1990. She currently teaches on the BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths.
Marion works in sculpture and moving image, with her film and video works framed as sculptural installations for which she collaborates with composers on soundtracks. Recent exhibitions include Twenty Six Things, Wellcome Collection, London (2008).
The Wellcome Book Prize was created to celebrate fiction and non-fiction which engages in some way with medicine, health or illness. This year’s award was judged by BBC presenter Razia Iqbal, Professor Uta Frith DBE, author Mark Hadden, barrister and broadcaster Baroness Helen Kennedy QC, and Bill Bryson.
Visit wellcomebookprize.org for more information.
(Photos - Ben Gilbert, Wellcome Book Prize)