The Turner Prize, organised by the Tate, was established 31 years ago in 1984 and exists to celebrate the British contemporary art scene. Though it draws both praise and criticism in equal measure and from all corners of the art industry as well as mainstream press, there is no denying that the Prize captures the imagination of the public. The Turner Prize and exhibition, for better or worse, attracts thousands of people to the host gallery each year, this has got to be a good thing!
Works considered for the Turner Prize range from paintings, drawings, video and short film, sculptures, installation art, sound art and performance art. By shortlisting four contemporary artists under the age of fifty each year, the Prize aims to support and showcase innovative and progressive artworks and artists, whilst critics of the Prize will say it courts controversy for controversies sake others consider it an integral part of the British art scene with an unrivalled reputation.
With Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin amongst previous winners, the Prize is important because it not only gives a nod to art history, the prize was founded with J.M.W. Turner at its heart – a radical painter of his day who himself aspired to establish an art prize for young artists in Britain – but because it recognises outstanding artists and their exhibitions, it gives a route for recognition for artists outside of the mainstream and introduces them to the public.
A quirk of the Prize is that the work exhibited in the gallery, is not the work for which the artists have received their nomination.
Turner Prize nominations are invited each year and are based on an exhibition by the artist in the twelve months prior, so the artist does not exhibit this work at the Turner Prize exhibition itself. In simple terms, the work we see in the exhibition is not the work the independent jury panel are judging – this is something to bear in mind if you visit the exhibition, which this year takes place at Tramway in Glasgow, from 1 October 2015 to 17 January 2016 – visiting Scotland for the very first time!
The ultimate winner of the Turner Prize will be awarded £25,000 and the three runners up £5,000 each.