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toby paterson
toby paterson on beck's futures
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Glasgow artist Toby Paterson writes about the shock of winning.

When I won Beck’s Futures back in 2002, my overwhelming feeling was one of surprise. I hadn’t felt my odds were very good. My work was practically unknown in London as I had only ever exhibited in a few small group shows there, and myself and Tom Wood were the only non-London-based artists on the shortlist. The judges also seemed to have been favouring powerful painting and video installation work in their selection and I couldn’t see how the wall-paintings and sculpture I was making might fit into the equation.

I’d received a fair amount of attention from the Scottish press in particular, as comparisons were drawn between my nomination and Roddy Buchanan’s success in the prize’s first year, 2000. I’d talked to Roddy and was aware of what to expect from the event in general, but he too had been thoroughly surprised at winning so I certainly didn’t hold out much hope. However slim my chances seemed, Beck’s Futures is a very media-focused event and I went through the various rounds of interviews and photo shoots, which in general turned out pretty well without too many embarrassing misrepresentations.

Having spent two weeks installing the work at the ICA (including a 16-metre-long wall-painting on the concourse) and returning to Glasgow after the opening, I was very relaxed about the idea of letting the eventual award ceremonies wash over me. I had a research trip to Turin organized for the immediate aftermath, intending it to concentrate my mind on getting back to work as much as being a distraction from the inevitable anticlimax. This seemed like a great idea at the time…


Images from Beck's Futures 2005 - detail of work by Luke Fowler and Donald Urquhart. See image gallery for full details.

Winning was a bit of a shock. I’d been rooting for Oliver Payne & Nick Relph to win, and the next thing I knew I was on the stage at the ICA beside Björk, with Nick and Ollie and their crew all shouting “F**ck yes!” at the tops of their voices. Very odd. I managed to blunder through some thanks - cut by BBC4 because I think they were afraid I was going to do some Madonna-style tactical swearing - before being ushered off for a much-needed drink, photos with Björk, interviews with CNN and so forth. I just kind of went limp and let all this happen. Björk was pleasant and down-to-earth, but my most exciting encounter that evening was with Brian Eno who was charming, despite my being the worse for wear by the time I met him.

The following morning, with horrendous hangover in tow, I was off to Turin rather wishing I hadn’t bothered trying to second-guess proceedings. And while Beck’s didn’t turn my life around in quite the cataclysmic way many might expect, I’d certainly never before experienced being screamed at by Beretta-toting Italian policemen while simultaneously trying to do an interview with the Evening Standard and get through passport control!

Toby Paterson 18 March 05


Beck’s Futures 2005 is at the ICA, London, until 15 May 05 and CCA Glasgow, 28 May - 10 July 05. The winner will be announced 26 April 05.
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