Wearing (right) beat an all-women's shortlist which included Christine Borland, Angela Bulloch and Cornelia Parker. Her victory means it is the second consecutive year that a video artist has won the prize. The judges, chaired by Tate director Nicholas Serota, said she had established "a highly personal form of what might be called urban realism" - a confessional art in which she persuades her fellow citizens to reveal their most secret thoughts, fears and desires. This year's shortlist has provoked a large amount of criticism. David Lee, editor of Arts Review, said Wearing and her shortlisted colleagues "have excelled themselves with their shallow ideas and uninspired execution caused by under-estimating the importance of the visual ingredient in art." Ms Wearing's basic medium is photography, still or moving. The judges said that in the tradition of serialism, her work revealed the often strange or disturbing realities that lie beneath the apparently calm surface of everyday appearances. "It also offers a rich insight into the lives of ordinary people".
In one of her works, "Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say", she asked people in the street to write a sign saying what was on their mind, and then photograph them holding it. In her most recent major work, "10-16", she filmed adult actors lip-synching to a soundtrack to the voices of children aged 10- 16. The result was said to suggest both the adult in the child and child in the adult.