Great Scots! For the third year running, Turner Prize is installed north of the border

Martin Boyce wins prestigious award for his 'art noir'

Nick Clark@MrNickClark
Tuesday 06 December 2011 01:00

If the Turner Prize could become any further removed from the quintessentially English landscape painter after which it is named it did so at least geographically this year as the third Scottish artist in a row won.

Martin Boyce secured the top award in contemporary art at the Baltic Centre in Gateshead. The bookies' favourite specialises in sculpture and installation and was awarded for a selection of works include Perforated and Porous (northern skies) 2011, a steel receptacle at an angle containing a refuse sack.

The award's curators said Boyce creates installations that "reference familiar objects", adding: "His environments offer a sense of wandering through a long-abandoned garden, or evoke the feeling of crossing through an urban park at night."

Boyce was born in Hamilton, Scotland in 1967 and was awarded a BA in 1990 and an MA in 1997 from Glasgow School of Art. He originally failed to get into art school – working in a record shop and studying at night school before making it the following year.

He is the third Scot in a row to pick up the award, and has previously represented the country at the Venice Biennale.

The judging panel, which included Baltic director Godfrey Worsdale, Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain, and Katrina Brown, director of The Common Guild in Glasgow, said the show "confirmed the consistency of his work while opening up a new sense of poetry".

His work was heavily influenced by "noir", Boyce said, and he cites Saul Bass, who created the opening sequences to a series of Alfred Hitchcock films, as well as modernist artists such as Joël and Jan Martel as being hugely influential.

Mario Testino, the celebrity photographer who presented the award, said: "Martin has many layers to his work."

The Independent's art critic Charles Darwent observed when the exhibit was unveiled in October: "Boyce's installation is both in the room and of it. The look is theatrical, like the set for a brutalist production of The Cherry Orchard."

This marked the second year the Turner Prize had been held outside London and the first it has been held outside a Tate gallery.

The north-east venue has proved a roaring success and could potentially become the most visited awards exhibition in the competition's 27-year history. Martin Boyce joins previous winners Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Gilbert & George, and the artist picks up a cheque for £25,000.

Past masters: previous Turner winners

Rachel Whiteread won awards for best and "worst" artist in Britain in 1993. She won the Turner Prize for a cast of an interior of a house. While K Foundation, set up by ex-pop group KLF, gave her a £40,000 prize for the "worst body of work" in the previous year.

Damien Hirst won the prize two years later for his controversial work Mother and Child, Divided. The piece showed a cow and calf dissected and displayed in formaldehyde. Mr Hirst is now accepted to be Britain's most wealthiest living artist. His platinum and diamond skull, which sold for £50m, will be displayed in the Tate Modern next year.

The prize was handed to Gillian Wearing in 1997, the only time there was an all-female shortlist. Her video 60 Minutes of Silence showed actors dressed as policemen standing still for an hour.

The Lights Going On and Off caused controversy when it won the prize in 2001. The work of Martin Creed, which as the title says was lights going on and off in an empty room, prompted another artist to throw eggs at the walls. The row was compounded by pre-watershed swearing from Madonna as she handed over the award.

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