Party of the Week: The fine art of Turner revelry
Friday 05 December 2008
Like it or loathe it, the Turner Prize is regarded as the sexiest art award of the year. So it's hardly surprising that the reception party in the glorious Duveen Galleries in Tate Britain saw showbiz glitterati and the art world's high priests and priestesses collide and confer.
Nick Cave, the skinny-jeaned Australian Bad Seed who had handed over the prize money to this year's ecstatic winner, Mark Leckey, brushed past Grayson Perry, a former Turner winner, who had characteristically come dressed as his female alter ego in a dress of Post-it notes illustrated with his own works.
Germaine Greer stood imperiously at one end of the hall, while Sir Nicholas Serota hugged Nicky Haslam warmly at the other and dismissed the bile visited upon the Turner every year. "It was conceived as a prize to raise public debate, which is what it continues to do," he said. Antony Gormley, another Turner laureate, was momentarily gripped by a huge sculpture which he gazed upon in awe.
A misty-eyed Mark Wallinger reflected on the terrors of this time last year, when he was handed his winning cheque by host Dennis Hopper. "I was nervous and don't remember much about the night. But then you would be nervous being handed a cheque by Dennis Hopper," he said. He was not the only one feeling nostalgic. Iwona Blazwick, director of Whitechapel Art Gallery, who shimmered in a glittering black dress, said the night brought back her time at the Tate when she oversaw the prize the year Tracey Emin and her bed were nominated. "I was gunning for her to win, if I'm honest, but it's not all about winning," she said.
Sure enough, few of the guests thought of winners and losers as they partied on. As ever, the Turner party is about so much more than the Turner Prize itself.
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