The Kelowna, B.C.-born, New York-based Shirreff was crowned winner at a Toronto gala Thursday night, with organizers touting more than 25,000 online votes cast — a new record — for the publicly voted arts honour.
Shirreff, whose work has been shown across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, is known for blending photography, video art and sculpture. Themes she's explored include questioning the relationship between time, space and an image.
Formerly known as The Grange Prize, the award celebrates a living and active contemporary photography artist. Past recipients have included Winnipeg's Sarah Anne Johnson, Mexico photojournalist Marco Antonio Cruz, Toronto-based Kristan Horton and British photographer Jo Longhurst.
Along with Shirreff's $50,000 win, the remaining finalists — Mexico's Edgardo Aragon, LaToya Ruby Frazier of the U.S. and Japanese-U.K. artist Chino Otsuka — will each receive $5,000.
Also, all four will receive a fully funded arts residency in Canada beginning in 2014.
Work by the four finalists continue on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario until Jan. 5.