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Turner Prize 2014: What's the verdict?

By Tim Masters
Entertainment and arts correspondent, BBC News

image copyrightJames Richards
image captionA still from Rosebud 2013 by James Richards, who at the age of 30 is the youngest nominee on the Turner Prize list

This year's Turner Prize 2014 shortlist may be short on star names but it looks set to stir up as much debate as ever about the contemporary art scene.

The four artists are Duncan Campbell, Ciara Phillips, James Richards and Tris Vonna-Michell.

Campbell has previously tackled subjects such as car maker John DeLorean and Northern Ireland political figure Bernadette Devlin. He is nominated for his presentation It for Others.

media captionWill Gompertz told Simon McCoy why non-traditional forms of art had been selected in the shortlist

Phillips' work involves screenprints on a variety of different materials including textiles, banners and walls.

Richards is nominated for Rosebud - a film collage which includes erotic photographs with explicit detail removed by censors who rubbed the pages with sandpaper.

And Vonna-Michell's art includes live storytelling, using visual props, timed by an audience member with an egg-timer.

So what do the art experts think?


"It's a quite surprising list," says Jennifer Higgie, co-editor of contemporary art magazine Frieze.

"One of the most startling things about this list is that three of the artists went to the Glasgow School of Art."

Higgie notes a "surprising lack of variety" on the shortlist, with three of the artists using film-based media.

"I think it is a slight shame that there isn't a greater variety of approaches. But, that said, the way those three artists use film as a medium is wildly divergent. They are not the same kind of artist."

Her hot tip to win is Duncan Campbell. "He's not one of those big flashy artists, but he's one who a lot of people respect. I think he's a brilliant choice.

"He's a really compelling film maker. I've noticed that when his films are shown in galleries people will sit through 45 minutes and no-one will leave."


"All of the artists to varying degrees are very hard to categorise," says Professor Chris Wainwright, pro vice-chancellor at University of the Arts, London.

"There are four artists here who are not household names as far as the traditional art establishment goes."

He says it is no surprise that young artists are turning to the internet, video, sound and photographs for their work.

"If you go back through history you can see all kinds of innovation and materials that artists have employed.

"Artists are using new means of working. That's a strong message that will engender some outrage but there's nothing new with that. It's to be expected."

He says the four artists now face the challenge putting on a major exhibition at Tate Britain which will "open the doors to a very critical public".


"Yet again the Turner Prize has this role of bringing lesser known artists to a wider public," says Sarah Monk, director of the London Art Fair.

She notes the shortlist has no traditional art forms such as painting or sculpture. Instead, it reflects the impact of the digital age.

"Here we have artists making collages of film - it's a sensory overload, with multiple images. It's very symptomatic of the way we we digest images on YouTube and the internet."

Will that make it a hard sell to art-lovers?

"People always have an appetite to be introduced to something new and to see who is up and coming," says Monk.

"I think people want to be challenged."

The Turner Prize 2014 exhibition takes place at Tate Britain from 30 September to 4 January 2015. The winner will be announced on 1 December.

Related Topics

  • Art
  • Glasgow School of Art

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