Preston bus station to be overrun by cannibals and Neanderthals in new £40k modern artwork

Video artist Nathaniel Mellors has been awarded the Contemporary Art Society's annual prize to bring the city's bus station to life

Nick Clark
Monday 24 November 2014 21:00 GMT
Preston bus station will be the centre point of a new £40,000 commissioned artwork
Preston bus station will be the centre point of a new £40,000 commissioned artwork

Preston Bus Station will be overrun by Neanderthals and cannibals as part of a new prize-winning art work by satirical artist Nathaniel Mellors who is looking to explore “some deeper weirdness” in the city.

Mr Mellors, who is known for absurd and funny video art and sculpture, has won the £40,000 Contemporary Art Society’s annual award for his idea for a video work in collaboration with Preston’s Harris Museum & Art Gallery.

“It’s a huge affirmation of what I’ve been working on for 10 years,” the 39-year-old said. The prize, backed by the Sfumato Foundation and one of the most valuable contemporary art awards in the UK, was last night presented by Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed.

After researching Preston and its buildings, Mr Mellors was taken with the Grade II 1960s brutalist bus station and a dilapidated cinema. Those will provide the backdrop for his film of a Neanderthal tribe clashing with cannibals. It will address “the state of Britain. It’s a form of realism but not told naturally”.

He has used Neanderthals in other film works, which featured acting talent including Gwendoline Christie, from Game of Thrones and the forthcoming Star Wars film.

Contemporary Art Society director Caroline Douglas described the artist’s work as from “a tradition of absurdist and satirical film making in Britain” including Lindsay Anderson and Derek Jarman.

It marks the first time the artist, who is increasingly working abroad, has been acquired for a public institution in the UK. “It’s really emotional and brilliant to get that support from Britain, my work is steeped in the British ideas of satire, joy, language and humour,” he said.

Mr Mellors expects to finish the 30-minute film in a year’s time which will then be on display at the Harris museum for 15 months.

Following his video work, the Mr Mellors said he is interested in following in the footsteps of artists such as Steve McQueen and Sam Taylor-Wood into feature film.

“Video art can be alienating, but a good artist should be able to switch to a different project and bring something different,” he said.

The Contemporary Art Society is a charity that promotes art in the UK and the annual award, in its sixth year, offers a public gallery or museum to work with an artist of their choice.

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