wed 06/12/2023

Turner Prize is won for the third time in a row by a Scottish artist | reviews, news & interviews

Turner Prize is won for the third time in a row by a Scottish artist

Turner Prize is won for the third time in a row by a Scottish artist

Martin Boyce's cerebral work is also emotionally engaging

'Do Words Have Voices', part of Martin Boyce's winning installation for the Turner Prize

George Shaw might have been the popular favourite, but it was Martin Boyce who carried the vote to win this year’s Turner Prize. The 44-year-old artist from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, follows fast on the heels of two fellow Scots: Susan Philipsz won the prize in 2010 and Richard Wright in 2009. But neither seemed as much of a clear-cut choice as Boyce, for although the public vote wasn’t his, the critics were pretty much united in backing him.

Martin Boyce Boyce’s installation (main picture), which takes as its starting reference a series of sculptures by French Modernists Joel and Jan Martel, is undeniably clever, elliptical and layered. In its meeting of utopian Modernism, defunct municipal architecture and natural landscape it is also deeply melancholic. The work is cerebral, whilst also being emotionally engaging – it carries with it a faint air of nostalgia that conveys something of the suburban whiff of a Seventies childhood. In this sense, his work can be compared to Shaw’s, who paints the Coventry estate in which he grew up (Shaw is 45, Boyce 44).  

But after I left the exhibition’s October press opening, it was really only Boyce’s work that kept playing on my mind, bringing new associations and fresh angles in its wake. Next to Hilary Lloyd and fellow Scot Karla Black, Boyce’s work simply has more traction.  

It was the first time the prize was held outside a Tate gallery. The curators at the Baltic Centre in Gateshead, which overlooks the spectacular River Tyne, did a superb job in installing all four artists: the Turner Prize exhibition has never appeared as attractive as in the Baltic’s small galleries. Meanwhile, Boyce was handed his winning £25,000 cheque by Mario Testino, a fashion photographer whose own work couldn’t be more different to the quietly contemplative work of each of the four nominees.


Divine. Stunning. Awesome. Inspired. Intelligent. Beautiful. Ugly. Meaningful. Witty. Clever. Good. Valuable. Well Deserved. Art. These are just some of the worlds which don't come to mind when I look at this thing. Instead, what does come to mind (apart from rude words) is this: "is it an extender?.. Yes!" (Alan Partridge) BTW anyone know who the man in the pink tutu was?

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