Helen Marten wins Turner Prize for 'poetic and enigmatic' work

The artist beat Anthea Hamilton, Michael Dean, and Josephine Pryde to £25,000 prize with complex sculptures made from array of materials

Charlotte England,Jess Denham
Monday 05 December 2016 22:18 GMT
Helen Marten accepts her prize at the Tate Gallery in London
Helen Marten accepts her prize at the Tate Gallery in London

Sculptor Helen Marten has won the 2016 Turner Prize for contemporary art with a collection of work lauded by the judges as being "outstanding for its extraordinary range of materials".

Marten, 31, who was the youngest of the four shortlisted artists and the favourite to win, picked up a cheque for £25,000 at Tate Britain in London. Her installation consists of three works and is made from objects "found in daily life" – including coins, cotton buds, shoe soles and eggs.

Having already won the prestigious Hepworth Prize for sculpture last month, Marten has sealed her position as one of the UK’s most exciting young artists. Born in Macclesfield and now based in London, she has described her work as a comment on the "vast grey milkshake of information" which we consume in our day to day lives.

Alex Farquharson, Tate Britain director and the chair of the judges, said Marten was making work which had "real longevity" and was using objects, forms and images in "a similar way to a poet using language".

“The judges were impressed by the complexity of the work, its amazing formal qualities, its disparate materials and techniques and also how it relates to the world... how it often suggests meaning, but those meanings are all in flux somehow. One image, one form becomes another,” he said.

A spokesman for Tate Britain added that the jury "admire the work's poetic and enigmatic qualities which reflect the complexities and challenges of being in the world today".

The sculptor and painter, who has said in the past that she finds winning prizes embarrassing, said she will share her winnings with the other artists on the shortlist. She kept her acceptance speech short, hailing the three other "brilliant and exciting" finalists – Anthea Hamilton, Michael Dean and Josephine Pryde.

The prize, named after innovative British painter JMW Turner, is awarded to artists under 50 who are judged to have put on the best exhibition of the year. Four artists were in the running to win the accolade, which was first awarded in 1984.

The prize aims to “promote public debate around new developments in contemporary art”. The winner of the prize receives £25,000, the other shortlisted artists each receive £5,000

Previous winners include Damien Hirst who exhibited his work The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living – a shark in a formaldehyde tank, and Tracy Emin, who exhibited My Bed – a soiled and dishevelled bed.

Here is a little more about each of this year’s nominees:

Anthea Hamilton

(Tate (Tate)

Hamilton explores a range of scales and mediums from sculpture to performance art, often drawing on the comic, sexual and surreal. She is shortlisted for Anthea Hamilton: Lichen! Libido! Chastity! at SculptureCentre, New York.

Michael Dean

(Tate (Tate)

Dean works mainly in sculpture, focusing on the “phsyical presentation of language”. The everyday urban environment strongly features and he makes use of unexpected materials widely considered to be ugly. He is shortlisted for two exhbitions: Sic Glyphs at South London Gallery and Qualities of Violence at de APpel arts centre, Amsterdam.

Helen Marten

(Tate (Tate)

Marten finds inspiration in an eclectic range of objects. Her work is hard to interpret or classify, making it all the more intriguing. She is shortlisted for a variety of projects including Eucalyptus Let Us In at Green Naftali, New York.

Josephine Pryde

(Tate (Tate)

Pryde is enthralled by the relationship between art and photography, focusing on the idea of art as a commodity and questining the traditions of the art world. She is shortlisted for lapses in Thinking By the person i Am at CCA Wattis, San Francisco.

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