Who? Last night, Glaswegian artist Martin Boyce was announced as the 26th winner of the Turner Prize, claiming victory with his atmospheric sculptures that call to mind the steely grey skies and austere landscapes of his native city. In his acceptance speech Boyce referenced the strong community and artistic spirit in his area, something that has clearly had a potent effect, this being the third consecutive year that the annual prize has been won by an artist based in Glasgow. And continuing the trend of moving the focus away from London, this was the first year that the exhibition and ceremony was held outside the capital, taking place at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.
"In his acceptance speech, Boyce referenced the strong community and artistic spirit in his Glasgow hometown"
What? Notoriously the Turner is a widely discussed and fiercely contested art prize; yet the battle is rarely between the artists themselves. It generally plays out on the pages of broadsheet and tabloid newspapers and passionately polemic art reviews, a pitched battle between those that see the chosen works as an annual chime of the death knell of "good" art, and those who see the award as welcoming the exciting, the new and the liberated to global renown. This years finalists’ were Boyce’s fellow Scot, sculptor Karla Black, video artist Hilary Lloyd and, the public favourite, painter George Shaw, whose defeat has caused the traditional furore.
Why? Overall, all the artists shortlisted represent a fascinating cross section of disciplines and ideas, and in Boyce’s quiet, cerebral structures, there is a moving beauty and poetry. Exploring ideas of historic modernism, Boyce takes a detached standpoint, deconstructing works from the early 20th century and refashioning them to create a totally new result. Certainly it is possible to look at his work, and his victory, as a powerful statement of the mood of the art world, as well as the political and economic climate of today.
Text by Tish Wrigley
Turner Prize 2011 is at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art until January 8 2012.