Two weeks ago GWL’s Seeing Things group visited the Turner Prize, Britain’s most high profile annual contemporary art prize currently on show at Glasgow Tramway. Sometimes controversial, the prize provokes the most visible debates about contemporary art practice in Britain, so it was a real treat for Seeing Things to be able to go!
This year artists nominated for the prize include Nicole Wermers for her exhibition Infrastruktur; Assemble for their collaboration with local residents and others in the Granby Four Streets, Liverpool; Janice Kerbel for her performance piece Doug; and Bonnie Camplin for her exhibition The Military Industrial Complex.
Seeing Things had a hugely enjoyable day out, spending time looking at and discussing the works on display. Here, some of the group give their views on this year’s nominations…
My favourite piece was Janice Kerbel’s performance ‘Doug’. I liked the way that it would suddenly start in the gallery when you were looking at something else. The singers were really good, and the sound filled the whole room! I thought it was amazing what they had done with the space at Tramway. It looked totally different from when I had been with Seeing Things in the past and I kept getting lost!
My favourite exhibit was by Assemble. I liked the way that they had worked with a community of people and their use of materials was amazing! I liked that something like this was nominated as it was something a bit different from what I expected from The Turner Prize. It showed what physical and manual labour could create out of things that we would normally regard as junk or not worth bothering with. We live in a throwaway society and it’s nice to see what you can do with these materials. It gave me ideas for things that I could do or make for myself, and skills that I would like to learn.
As a first time visitor to the Turner Prize I didn’t really know what to expect. I was a bit bewildered when we first went into the Nicole Wermers installation and wasn’t sure what it was supposed to mean.
My first choice on the day was the Liverpool exhibition put together by Assemble because I was impressed by what the locals were able to achieve with the old pieces of their street i.e. regeneration such as, lamps, fireplaces, tables, tiles, different styles of bricks and much more. All very colourful and useful.
Assemble was also my favourite. The installation reminded me of a cottage. The lights were really lovely and I like that it was a community project – it felt a little more down to earth than some of the other stuff that was on show – I could identify with it.
My other favourite was Bonnie Camplin. There was a great variety of books on a variety of subjects. I found them a bit challenging – some weren’t on very nice subjects; some were more historical and others were just weird!
I liked the show overall, but Nicole Wermers installation really induced strong feelings in me! It reminded me of how bad our society is – consumerist and capitalist, with certain people feeling/having an ownership over public space. It gave me the willies quite frankly, and I kind of wanted to leave that room as fast as possible!
I really enjoyed Bonnie Camplin’s ‘Military Industrial Complex’. I’d read some of the books myself. Listening to the people who were interviewed by the artist, it made me think about how people have strange ideas, but it also made me ask ‘who am I to say whats right/wrong, or possible/impossible?’. In the past for example people thought the world was flat, not round, and more recently, women who dared to rattle the cage were labelled hysterical. It made me think of how fickle ‘reality’ is or can be…
I also really liked Assemble. It made me think about barn raising and community based living and seeing the possibility in simple materials. The people benefitting from this project are regular people living in their community, so it’s nice that a project like this would make things which function and are beautiful. Why shouldn’t regular people live in beauty? It was really relatable and appealed to my lefty tendencies!
The group also voted on who they thought should win the prize. Assemble were just favourites, with Janice Kerbel running a very close second. We’re looking forward to the announcement of the prize winner this week! The prize is announced live on Channel 4 on 7th December, and Seeing Things definitely recommend you try and see the show before it closes on 17 January 2016!