Helen Marten was announced as the winner of the Turner Prize last night at the Tate Britain Gallery in London.
The Macclesfield artist scooped up the award – one of the most prestigious in the British art scene – just one month after winning the £30,000 Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. She reportedly intends to share both financial awards, totalling £55,000, between the other artists who were shortlisted.
Marten was the youngest of this year’s mostly female shortlist, which also included Michael Dean, Josephine Pryde and Anthea Hamilton (the artist responsible for the now notorious sculpture of a gigantic backside). She has described herself as feeling “numb” with surprise at the victory, and claims that her work – which combines writing, sculpture and screen printing – is a reaction to the “vast grey milkshake of information” we process every day.
“It makes you realise that the art world as a whole is operating in a very hermetic bubble of sign language that is not necessarily generous to a wider public audience which is not initiated in that kind of language or visual information,” Marten said in her acceptance speech. “Putting something here and seeing what the public perception of it is is very humbling and educational, it makes you think maybe my work is not universal, maybe the themes I’m employing are not immediately understandable.”
This year’s Turner Prize applicants were required to create a piece that promoted “public debate around new developments in contemporary art”. The chair of judges, Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson, said that the deciding panel were “impressed by the complexity” of her work.
“It is like an experience of the world in real time, it reflects a complex world, not one that can be boiled down to singular statements or buzzwords,” he said. “Her work reflects the condition of the world and particularly the condition of the visual world, one that is always accelerating, especially under the influence of the internet.”