HEAD TURNERS?Some previous winners and shortlisted entries, clockwise from top left: ‘My Bed’, Tracey Emin (shortlisted, 1999); ‘Mother and Child, Divided’, Damien Hirst (winner, 1995); ‘No Woman No Cry’, Chris Ofili (winner, 1998); ‘We’ve Found the Body of your Child’, Grayson Perry (winner 2003); and ‘A Small Thing But My Own’, Howard Hodgkin (winner, 1985).
Turner tour for Mayo artists
WHAT Monet or Gauguin, Hopper or our own Jack B Yeats would say about Tracy Emin’s
tousled bed, covered with the detritus of intimacy, being shortlisted for the 1999 Turner Prize is a moot question. So too is what they may have said about Martin Creed’s winning contribution to the prestigious prize in 2001. His installation was entitled ‘The Lights Going On and Off’, and that’s precisely what it was: an empty room with the lights going on and off. Little surprise that one artist was so incensed at his award that she threw eggs at the wall of the room. (Perhaps, that was the artistic intention all along, to wind people up.)
The group of Mayo artists who will travel to Derry later this week to view the 2013 exhibition of the Turner Prize are obviously familiar with this iconic award’s reputation for breaking even the glass ceiling of artistic parameters. Indeed, the prize itself has significantly contributed to the acceptability of off-the-wall art (both metaphorically and literally speaking); the annual and fêted Claremorris Open Exhibition is a case in point.
The tour organiser is Chris Leach, who is the recently appointed administrator at the privately-funded O’Dwyer Arts Cenre, situated at The Old School House, Lismirrane, Swinford. Speaking to The Mayo News, he said that many members of County Mayo’s vibrant artistic community ‘worked in isolation’, so a gathering like this offered an opportunity to exchange ideas and find stimulation in the broader artistic world.
“The fact that this is the first time the Turner prize has been exhibited outside the UK adds to the appeal of travelling to Derry. It is a valuable opportunity to see the absolute best contemporary art. Of course, the Turner Prize is notorious for a range of different reasons but its diversity – from performance art to video and installations – while still touching on traditional art, is important,” Chris Leach said.
He added that it was an invaluable ‘showcase of the most outstanding contemporary art’.
One Mayo artist who is always committed to pushing the boundaries of her work, Breda Burns, believes that if such artists as Monet and Yeats, were living today they ‘would be pushing the boundaries too’ just like the many contemporary artists in Mayo and beyond.
“We live in a very mixed and transitory society today, so art expresses that diversity and constant change. No matter what time period in which artists are working it is our job to push those parameters. We need to remember that Yeats and Monet were pushing boundaries with their work,” Breda Burns said.
THIS year’s Turner Prize was won by Laure Prouvost, who was nominated for her video installation ‘Wantee’ and her two-part art installation ‘Farfromwords’. Prouvost is renowned for films and installations ‘characterised by richly layered stories, translation, and surreal moments’.
She is defined by: “Her seductive and disorienting tales toy with the audience’s ability to become fully absorbed by a single narrative. Her unconventional approach to text, montage, cinematic conventions, and imagery create a distinct visual language that is engaged in an ongoing conversation with the history of art and literature.”
French-born Prouvost may have beaten David Shrigley’s the very popular ‘ Life Model – a seven-foot naked Pinnochio-nosed animatronic boy, but she also adds surreal fun to the Derry exhibition space with ‘Wantee’, an installation and film homage to her late grandfather, a prolific artist. The uses to which he puts his art are rather absurd – sculptures that double as doorstops, coat-hangers or props for legless chairs, paintings used to patch holes in the wall.
“And yet there is a truth running through Prouvost’s narrative, and it is about artists fashioning things out of junk, pouring their passion into clay sculptures that will one day be used as teapots, spending every day producing more and more work,” writes Laura Cumming in The Observer.
THE Mayo Artists Network, in conjunction with the O’Dwyer Arts Centre, near Bohola, has organised a day-trip to Derry to visit the Turner Prize Exhibition on Thursday next, December 19. The bus will leave Westport at 8.30am, then pick up at the O’Dwyer Arts Centre at 9am and travel on to Derry to arrive around 12 noon, leaving for Mayo again at 7pm.
The coach cost is €15. For more information, phone Chris Leach at 094 93 84809 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.