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Turner Prize

For the first time ever, the exhibition was held outside of aTate gallery and traveled north to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.TheTurner Prize, as we all know, is a prestigious award and is recognized for undoubtably playing a significant role in provoking debate and discussion about visual art, in particular British contemporary art, by elevating and

2011 was a big year for theTurner Prize.
The shortlisted artists in 2011 were George Shaw, Karla Black, Hilary Lloyd and Martin Boyce, respectively a painter, a sculptor, video artist and installation artist. Baltic's chief curator Laurence Sillars praised the shortlisted artists as "thinkers, makers and doers", who, while covering a broad range of artistic genres, "share an attention to detail that is really important to them". In viewing this amalgamation of work back in November 2011, what I could not escape was the overriding question of who to reject and discard as a potential winner. This year was difficult, some work is clever, some ephemeral, others already out of date. The highlight of the show for me was Martin Boyce’s contemplative, modernistinspired environments, however with a variety of outstanding exhibitions across the globe in the preceding twelve months to the shortlisting, I had a sneaky feeling Karla Black’s innovation of sculpture had it in the bag. On 5th December 2011, Martin Boyce was announced as the winner of the £25,000 prize. Boyce, 44, is the third Turner-Prize winner in succession either from, or educated in Glasgow, a fact that confirms the now indelible importance of the city to Britain’s art world, and of course also on the shortlist was another Glasgow School of Art graduate, sculptor Karla Black. Despite Boyce’s victory all the work presented in the baltic were deserved winners.

celebrating cutting edge work.
George Shaw’s sombre, and it must be said, slightly depressing paintings hold a similar nostalgia to Boyce’s work. His paintings depict the landscapes and cityscapes of his childhood, mainly the council estate on the outskirts of Coventry where he grew up. The grungy settings are the opposite of picturesque. Everything appears dull, unloved, boarded up, derelict and it is surely a true critique of England that people do not see, ignore or easily forget about. These scenes are painted with humbrol enamel - the paint which children use to paint their airfix planes supplying an irony of shine and gloss to the image. Despite the overwhelming grey mood, Shaw utilises his enormous technical ability to record the mundane, the ultra-realist and make it somewhat beautiful. Karla Black’s work which involves cosmetics, nail varnish, eyeshadow and bath bombs are deployed on a large scale in installations that look more sculptural than painterly. Having seen Black’s work three times now over the past two years once at the Saatchi Gallery in London, representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale and here at the Baltic, I find it difficult to say why she is such a great artist however her work seems to be everywhere at the moment and is oddly cutting edge. The Turner installation space works with colour and texture and cheap domestic materials and objects. Here, as at the Venice Biennale, Black sets up a sense of the familiar unknown. What I find interesting is the works ephemeral nature, it is ever changing, constantly decaying. The space is filled with a sculptural construction of creased paper, cellophane, pastel soap, face powder, chalk, bath bombs and cello-tape. These things are gentle and fragile and disperse that smell of cleanliness, like bath bombs do. What Black makes of them is monumental, unusual, delicate but dominant in that space. The construction of work, pastel colours, everyday materials transform into sculpture like I have never seen before. Her work may have integrity, an innovative nature, a cutting edge appeal and a knowledge of material but the materiality restrains a particular sleek aesthetic in which Boyce’s work succeeds.

Clare Nattress

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