Gillian Wearing

(born 1963)


Gillian Wearing was born in Birmingham. She studied at Chelsea School of Art and Design and Goldsmiths College, London. In 1992 the artist began a series of works in which she approached people in the street, gave them a sheet of paper, asked them to write something on it, and then photographed the individuals holding the message. The photographs probed the gap between a person’s appearance and what they might be thinking, and also what we might think of them. Wearing has made a number of videos based on the theme of confession, taking inspiration from fly-on-the-wall documentaries. In 1997 she won the Turner Prize.

Glossary terms

  • A group of conceptual British artists, mainly born in the 1960s, first gathered together by Damien Hirst in 1988 to take part in an exhibition called 'Freeze'. The term YBA was coined following the show 'Young British Artists I', featuring work by Hirst and Rachel Whiteread, which was held at the Saatchi Gallery, London, in 1992. Many of the artists known as YBAs trained at Goldsmiths College of Art, London. The phenomenon is also known as 'Britart'.

  • An annual British art prize which was founded in 1984 by the Tate Gallery's Patrons of New Art. It is intended to promote public discussion of developments in contemporary British art and generates media attention and, at times, controversy. Winners include Gilbert and George , Richard Long, Rachel Whiteread and Douglas Gordon.