Curaçaoan Artist Tirzo Martha Wins Dutch Sculpture Prize for His Body of Work


Curaçaoan artist Tirzo Martha has won a Dutch sculpture prize, the Wilhelminaring [Wilhelmina Ring], for his body of work. A post by Peter Jordens.

The Curaçaoan sculptor, filmmaker, writer and performance artist Tirzo Martha has won the 11th Wilhelmina Ring, the biannual lifetime achievement award for sculptors in the Netherlands. The prize consists of a specially designed ring, an exhibition at the CODA art center in the Dutch municipality of Apeldoorn, and an assignment from that municipality to produce a sculpture to be placed in the Sprengen Park. Martha is the first artist born outside the Netherlands and the first Curaçaoan to win the Wilhelmina Ring. Martha lives and works in Curaçao but also has an art studio in the Netherlands.

The announcement was made at Here are translated excerpts from a news article by Karolien Knols for De Volkskrant; for the complete, original article (in Dutch), go to

Artist Tirzo Martha (1965) has won the 2019 Wilhelmina Ring, the oeuvre prize for Dutch sculpture. Martha, who lives in Curaçao, is a sculptor and performance artist. The jury unanimously praised him for the versatility and the consistent quality of his work. As jury chairman Lex Ter Braak explained, “The strength of Martha’s work is that with his sculptures he tells stories and gives voice to his community, without losing sight of the artistic dimension.” […]

Martha’s art installations were on display in the Netherlands in 2017 in a large retrospective exhibition at the Beelden aan Zee Museum. His works typically consist of a diversity of objects and materials. They also often contain references: images of saints refer to the role of religion in Curaçao; canvases made from mailbags of the former Netherlands Antilles refer to colonial history, and sunshades, as in the sculpture called Are You Happy Now?, symbolize protection. […]

For Martha, the prize means more than just recognition for his artistry. In 2018 he spent two months in hospital because of a virus in his heart. “I was in really bad shape; I could have died. My doctors told me not to work anymore, but my recovery went better than expected. Just as I was thinking: ‘I need a new goal, a new project’, the jury called me. The prize feels like a reward for my survival.”

The Wilhelmina Ring comes with 50,000 Euros in cash, which must be used to produce a new work of art for the public space of Apeldoorn. […] Martha: “I am thinking about doing a series inspired by the many houses in Curaçao that are never completed. People run out of money, or it turns out that the plot of land belongs to someone else and a dispute ensues. I have always liked those concrete monuments, overgrown by greenery, within the landscape.”

The Wilhelmina Ring will be presented on August 31, 2019 at the CODA Museum in Apeldoorn.

[Photo above by Omar Marth: ‘Are You Happy Now?’ by Tirzo Martha (2012).]


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