Martin Boyce becomes the third Glasgow artist in succession to triumph at the Turner Prize, as a friend tells Channel 4 News “the first time he tried to get into art school he failed.”
A bizarre moment briefly delayed the announcement of this year’s Turner Prize as a man dressed in a tutu invaded the stage. But winner Martin Boyce brushed off the interruption, calmly telling the audience at Baltic in Gateshead, “Well, I didn’t expect that.”
Glasgow-based Boyce was presented with his prize by the celebrated photographer Mario Testino. The Scot, 44, scooped the most famous prize in British contemporary art for his mesmerising installation describe as a “faded dreamscape”.
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Scotland on Sunday art critic Moira Jeffrey, a friend of Boyce’s, told Channel 4 News: “It’s a tremendous result. Martin is one of these incredibly careful, steady artists.
“The great story about Martin is the first time he tried to get into art school he failed. He went to night school, he persevered and he’s worked really really solidly to get where he is just now.”
Boyce’s win continues the success story of Glasgow, especially its famous school of art, in British contemporary art.
Artists linked to the city have won for the last three years, with Boyce following in the footsteps of Susan Philipsz and Richard Wright.
I don’t know if we [Scotland] ‘own’ the Turner Prize, but we have won it three times in a row. Moira Jeffrey
“I’m so proud of the community that I live in in Glasgow, where there are a whole bunch of artists who have really high standards,” said Jeffrey.
“I don’t know if we ‘own’ the Turner Prize, but we have won it three times in a row.”
Describing this year’s winner, Channel 4 News Culture Editor Matthew Cain said: “For me, the autumnal leaves scattered on the floor [for Boyce’s Turner Prize show] evoke powerful feelings of abandonment or melancholy.
“And I was fascinated to hear the artist’s own description of his work as walking a tightrope between the hard textures of the urban built environment and something which leans towards the more poetic.”
Held at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Tyneside, it was the first time in the prize’s 27-year history that it was presented at a non-Tate venue and only the second time it had been held outside London.
Tate director Nicholas Serota told Channel 4 News: “Of course it was in Liverpool in 2007, but it’s always been a national prize and it will now be outside London in alternate years.
“That reflects two big changes in Britain – one is that there’s now a great appetite for contemporary art across the country.
“And secondly there are now a range of galleries, many of whom have opened in the last 10 years – many of which now have the ability to present the Turner Prize.”
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Sarah Stewart, chief executive of the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, said: "For us, the very fact the Tate were willing to let the Turner Prize be hosted at the Baltic really did confirm the transformation of Newcastle-Gateshead as a cultural capital. And with visitors, well in the first week that the Turner Prize was open, around 30,000 went through. We've already had 110,000 people come through and we've got a month to go. There are so many people wanting to have a look."
The judges applauded Boyce’s “pioneering contribution to the current interest which contemporary artists have in historic modernism, while continuing to develop and find new directions within the same vocabulary”.
Boyce won £25,000 while the other shortlisted entrants Karla Black, Hilary Lloyd and George Shaw took away £5,000 each.
The Turner Prize is awarded each year to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition in the previous year. Former winners include Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst and Antony Gormley, whose famous Angel of the North sculpture looms large Gateshead’s horizon.
The gatecrasher was named as “professional streaker” Mark Roberts. He launched himself at the stage wearing only a pink tutu and with “study this” written on his stomach. He said “thank you, thank you” as he was dragged away by two security guards.