Fine Art graduate lands major Italian prize

Published: 31 March 2016 at 17:47

Venice performance of The Holy See Gets It

Wolter wins €7,000 in Venice for work focusing on child abuse in Catholic Church

Untitled PageRecent Anglia Ruskin University graduate Ian Wolter has won a leading Italian art prize for a hard-hitting performance piece focusing on child abuse in the Catholic Church.

“The Holy See Gets It” was created while Wolter was still an undergraduate student on the BA (Hons) Fine Art course, and the choral piece was first performed as part of the Art Language Location festival in Cambridge last October.

The judges of the Venice Arte Laguna video art and performance prize awarded first place, and a cheque for €7,000, to Wolter “for his ability to analyse and deal with a current social issue in an original and brilliant way.  The performance ‘The Holy See Gets It’ turns out to be a complete research work in every aspect: the music, the text, the critical use of a sacred element”.

The title “The Holy See Gets It” quotes Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor, and the work addresses the critical 2014 report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child into the Vatican’s handling of the clerical sexual abuse of children. 

The work combines excerpts from the UNCRC report with choral music in the tradition of the Catholic Church, raising questions about the distance maintained between the Vatican and the victims, and the traditions that enable the church to continue to claim moral authority. 



“The Holy See Gets It” incorporates new music written by former Anglia Ruskin music student Chloe Evans and the choir was led by Sue Flynn during performances in both Venice and Cambridge.

Wolter, who lives in Saffron Walden, said:

“I was surprised and thrilled to win the Arte Laguna prize. I didn't expect to, I was delighted just to be shortlisted and to have the chance to exhibit my work in Venice.

“I created ‘The Holy See Gets it’ last year while still an undergraduate student at Anglia Ruskin, and it was first shown there. My work can be very controversial and the university has been very supportive of it.

“The work challenges the institutional nature of large religions and the extent to which they have accepted what has happened; this problem does not only exist within the Catholic Church.”

Chris Owen, Head of the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin said:

“I am delighted to see Ian’s career taking off so quickly after graduating in Fine Art.

“He has the ability to present politically contentious issues in ways which are both powerful and poetic. It is no surprise that this performance in Venice caught the judges’ eye, and I am very much looking forward to seeing his next exhibition in London.”

Wolter’s work will next be on show at the Hundred Years Gallery in Hoxton, London, from 21 April, where he will be exhibiting new kinetic art alongside Emma Elliot and Penelope Harrall, who is also a former Anglia Ruskin student. More information about Wolter can be found at his website.