Leading article: Bear with us

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The Independent Online

It has been a year for remembering old artistic triumphs and tucking into fresh ones. Tate Britain has been holding a 24-year retrospective of the Turner Prize in London, which resurrected, among other controversial works of yesteryear, Damien Hirst's chain-sawed and preserved cows.

And, for the first time, the prize itself was staged outside the capital. The 2007 exhibition was held at Tate Liverpool, to help the city generate some buzz before it takes on the mantle of European Capital of Culture next year. By all accounts it has been a success.

Mark Wallinger, who emerged victorious yesterday, is a worthy winner of this year's prize. His video work, "Sleeper", in which the artist roamed Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie at night dressed as a brown bear (the city's emblem), is thick with resonances of history and identity.

And unlike some contemporary conceptual art, "Sleeper" also manages to create a compelling visual spectacle. Wallinger, one of the most interesting and consistent artists of his generation, also deserves the recognition the prize confers.

There has been another encouraging Turner result this year. The outraged headlines and spluttering commentaries about the quality of the works selected have been few and far between, certainly far less audible than in previous years.

Perhaps the ubiquity of contemporary art has finally begun to shape public attitudes and dismantle prejudices. After 24 years, is the Turner Prize finally reaching maturity?