Irish-born artist Duncan Campbell wins Turner Prize
Graduate of the Glasgow School of Art wins for his series of films It For Others
Dublin-born artist Duncan Campbell after winning the prestigious Turner Prize, presented by actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, at the Tate Britain Gallery in London tonight. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters
Campbell, who is originally from Swords, Co Dublin but is now based in Glasgow, was the favourite to win the prestigious award long before the result was announced by British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor at Tate Britain in London.
Delighted by his victory, which brings with it a £25,000 prize, plus international reputation, Campbell said the degree of tension he had felt before learning that he had won was “quite bizarre”.
“It feels quite surreal. It doesn’t feel as if it is happening to me,” he said.
Praising his prize-winning entry, a 50-minute-long film titled It For Others, the judges said they admired “his exceptional dedication to making a work which speaks about the construction of value and meaning in ways that are topical and compelling”.
Video: Duncan Campbell on his film-making process
They said the complex work, which includes a reflection on African art and some barbed criticism of the British Museum, merits “repeated viewing”.
For an Irish audience, perhaps the most notable feature is Campbell’s decision to include an image of Joe McCann, a member of the Official IRA who was shot dead by British soldiers on a street in Belfast in 1971 as he ran away unarmed.
Nicknamed by some as “the Che Guevara of the IRA”, images of McCann, with his M1 carbine, were later emblazoned on Sinn Féin-produced T-shirts and Christmas stockings.
Previous winners of the Turner Prize include the now world-famous Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and last year’s installation artist, Laure Prouvost. Five of the last 10 winners, including Campbell, are graduates of Glasgow’s School of Art.
The Scottish city, he said, is “a great place to be an artist”, offering affordable living and the time and space for artists to develop their craft.
Arts Council chairwoman Sheila Pratschke said the council was delighted by Campbell’s win. “Duncan’s work often tackles difficult and challenging issues relating power and politics to different structures and contexts. We are exceptionally proud that an Irish artist has received this internationally renowned prize and it reflects the impact that Irish artists continue to make on a world stage.”
Campbell had been the bookmakers’ short-odds favourite to win the Turner, though art critics had been scathing in their opinion of the shortlist, with one describing it as “the worst” in the award’s history.
However, the judges took little time to make their decision. “All the judges felt they were quite clear in their own minds,” said Penelope Curtis, the director of Tate Britain and chair of judges.
“This is a work the judges have seen a number of times in different places and they felt it only gained by being seen again. They particularly liked the way it was shown here, so they felt it was finally done justice,” she said.
Campbell’s Turner Prize winning work is at IMMA in Dublin as part of a major show until March 29th.