LONDONDERRY-French-born film installation artiste Laure Prouvost won Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize for a short film clip that in part tells the story of a fictional grandfather digging a hole to Africa and disappearing down it.

An emotional and surprised Prouvost, who lives and works in London, told a crowd of hundreds at the awards ceremony: “I didn’t expect this at all ... I was sure it was not me.” After presenting the award, the Oscar-nominated Irish actress Saoirse Ronan brought Prouvost’s baby onto the stage to a chorus of “aahs” from the audience. The ceremony was held in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the first time the prize has been awarded outside England. Prouvost told reporters she felt Britain was her “adopted” home because “this is the country that let me grow”.

The Turner winner gets 25,000 pounds ($40,900), with 5,000 pounds for each of the three runners-up - Scottish conceptual artiste David Shrigley, London-born painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Berlin-based English artiste Tino Sehgal, who specialises in creating encounters between visitors to galleries and people he enlists to talk to them. Prouvost is known for films and installations with complex story lines and sometimes surreal interruptions, images and choppy editing. “I was not allowed to watch TV when I was little so I became obsessed with it. I’m catching up,” she said. Her winning work, “Wantee”, includes a 15-minute film purporting to be a tour of her late grandfather’s sculpture studio. Instead, it shows how his outmoded works - some of them present in the room where the film is shown - have wound up being used to make furniture, or as a kitchen stand. The grandfather, who it becomes clear is fictional, vanished by disappearing down a tunnel he was digging to Africa. Prouvost said tongue in cheek that she would use the prize money to build a “big arts centre for grandfather”. The Turner Prize, first awarded in 1984 and named after the 19th-century English landscape and seascape painter JMW. Turner, has often courted controversy and is regularly lampooned in Britain’s tabloid press.