The Turner Prize is among contemporary British art’s most prestigious and influential awards. It was established in 1984 to honour a British artist under 50 (This criteria has now been revised) for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding the award. The prize is named after the English painter J.M.W. Turner, known for his innovative and influential contributions to British art.
Here is a brief history of the Turner Prize and its impact on contemporary art:
The Turner Prize promotes public debate around new developments in contemporary art. The winner will be announced on 5 December 2023 at an Eastbourne’s Winter Garden award ceremony.
Jesse Darling works in sculpture, installation, video, drawing, sound, text and performance, using ‘materialist poetics’ to explore and reimagine the everyday technologies that represent our lives. Darling has often combined industrial materials such as sheet metal and welded steel with everyday objects to explore ideas of the domestic and the institutional, home and state, stability and instability, function and dysfunction, and growth and collapse.
Darling was nominated for his solo exhibitions No Medals, No Ribbons at Modern Art Oxford and Enclosures at Camden Art Centre. Taking cues from Towner’s coastal location, Darling combines new and recent works in an installation that explores borders, bodies, nationhood and exclusion. The sculptural works Corpus (Half-staff) and Inter Alia I (2022) form a fragmented colonnade in the gallery. Concrete and polystyrene pillars are topped with barbed wire, venetian blinds and net curtains. Pedestrian barriers and prickly anti-bird spikes also echo the built environment’s hostile and controlling element, with jarring proximity to our domestic everyday.
Ghislaine Leung’s practice critically examines the conditions of art production, its presentation and circulation. Leung has developed a process of art making that results in ‘score-based artworks’. The ‘scores’ are text-based instructions or descriptions realised by the gallery team in close conversation with the artist.
Leung was nominated for her solo exhibition Fountains at Simian, Copenhagen, which consisted of five score-based works, including Fountains (2022), an artwork created from a score that states ‘a fountain installed in the exhibition space to cancel sound’. At Towner, the exhibition also features a baby monitor installed in the art store, broadcasting live to the exhibition space, and a wall drawing representing the hours Leung can dedicate to working in her studio. These examples speak to the realities of working in multiple roles as an artist and mother and highlight Leung’s interest in the time, labour and support structures required to make and maintain artworks.
Rory Pilgrim is a multidisciplinary artist working across songwriting, composition, films, texts, drawings, paintings and live performances. Pilgrim aims to challenge how we come together, speak, listen and strive for social change through sharing and voicing personal experiences.
Pilgrim was nominated for the commission RAFTS at Serpentine and Barking Town Hall and a live performance of the work at Cadogan Hall, London. The RAFTS (2022) film presented at Towner is a seven-song oratorio narrated by eight residents of Barking and Dagenham from Green Shoes Arts, reflecting on what the symbol of a raft means to them through song, music and poetry. They are joined by singers Declan Rowe John, Robyn Haddon, Kayden Fearon, and Barking and Dagenham Youth Dance members. RAFTS was made during the Covid-19 pandemic and in this work, Pilgrim positions the raft as a symbol of support, keeping us afloat in challenging and precarious circumstances. Timed screenings of RAFTS and RAFTS: Live are presented alongside paintings, drawings and sculptures that expand this theme.
Barbara Walker works in various media and formats, from embossed works on paper to paintings on canvas and large-scale charcoal wall drawings. Growing up in Birmingham, Walker’s experiences have shaped a practice concerned with class and power, gender, race, representation and belonging issues.
Walker was nominated for her Burden of Proof presentation at Sharjah Biennial 15. Walker brings careful attention and visibility to individuals and families affected by the Windrush scandal in this body of work. The exhibition at Towner features large-scale charcoal figures drawn directly onto the gallery wall and a series of works on paper. Monochromatic portraits of people impacted by the scandal are layered over hand-drawn reproductions of documents that evidence their right to remain in the UK. Walker invites the viewer to consider the true consequences of political decision-making, the complexities of diasporic identity and the struggle for legitimacy.
Turner Prize Facts
1984: The inaugural Turner Prize was awarded to Malcolm Morley, an artist associated with Post Pop Art and known for his photorealist and realist paintings.
£25,000 goes to the winner and £5,000 each goes to the other shortlisted artists
Turner Prize winners: By Gender
• 39 % of jurors (excluding Directors) have been women
• 35 % of shortlisted artists have been women
• 32% of the winners have been women
Turner Prize winners: By Type of Art
• 18 % were painters
• 32% were sculptors, or created installation art
• 27 % were mixed media/multimedia artists
• 14 % were film/video artists
• 9 % were photographers
2019: The Turner Prize was awarded collectively to the four nominees, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani, in a gesture of solidarity and cooperation.
2020: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turner Prize was cancelled, and the funds allocated for the prize were redirected to support struggling artists.
The Turner Prize has gained a reputation for pushing the boundaries of contemporary art and has often been associated with controversy and debate. It has helped launch the careers of many influential artists and has played a significant role in shaping the direction of contemporary British art. The prize’s eclectic list of winners reflects contemporary art practices’ diverse and ever-evolving nature, from traditional media like painting and sculpture to newer forms such as video, sound, and performance art.
Full Turner Prize List
1984 Malcolm Morley Painting
Gilbert and George
Richard Long Inaugural prize winner, awarded £10,000
1985 Howard Hodgkin Painting, printing
Ian Hamilton Finlay
John Walker —
1986 Gilbert and George Photomontage Art & Language
1987 Richard Deacon Sculpture
Thérèse Oulton Richard Long was also a nominee in 1984.
1988 Tony Cragg Sculpture
Richard Wilson Richard Long was also a nominee in 1984 and 1987.
1989 Richard Long Sculpture
Richard Wilson There was no shortlist, but the losing nominees were “commended”. Lucian Freud and Richard Wilson were nominees in 1988.
1990 Prize suspended due to lack of sponsor following the bankruptcy of Drexel Burnham Lambert
1991 Anish Kapoor Sculpture
Rachel Whiteread Prize was increased to £20,000 with sponsorship from Channel 4
1992 Grenville Davey Sculpture
Alison Wilding —
1993 Rachel Whiteread Sculpture
Sean Scully First female winner; also won the £40,000 K Foundation art award presented to the “worst artist of the year”
1994 Antony Gormley Sculpture
Shirazeh Houshiary —
1995 Damien Hirst Installation, painting
Damien Hirst: his exhibit included a bisected cow and calf in formaldehyde in a vitrine – Mother and Child Divided. He was a nominee in 1992.
1996 Douglas Gordon Video Craigie Horsfield
Simon Patterson Douglas Gordon was the first winner to be based outside of London and also the first artist to win the prize with a moving image work.
1997 Gillian Wearing Video
Cornelia Parker The first all-female shortlist
1998 Chris Ofili Multi-layered painting
Cathy de Monchaux
Sam Taylor-Wood —
1999 Steve McQueen Video
Jane and Louise Wilson
Tracey Emin exhibited her bed, titled My Bed
2000 Wolfgang Tillmans Photography
Wolfgang Tillmans is German, but is based in London.
2001 Martin Creed Installation
Mike Nelson The prize was presented by Madonna.
2002 Keith Tyson Installation, painting Fiona Banner
Catherine Yass The prize was presented by architect Daniel Libeskind.
2003 Grayson Perry Pottery
Jake and Dinos Chapman
Grayson Perry, a cross-dresser, accepted the prize wearing a dress. The prize was presented by Sir Peter Blake.
2004 Jeremy Deller Video, installation
Langlands and Bell
Yinka Shonibare Prize increased to £25,000; losing nominees awarded £5,000 each. The prize was presented by journalist Jon Snow.
2005 Simon Starling Installation Darren Almond
Jim Lambie The prize was presented by then Culture Minister David Lammy.
2006 Tomma Abts Painting
Rebecca Warren Tomma Abts is German, but works in the UK. The prize was presented by Yoko Ono.
2007 Mark Wallinger Installation Nathan Coley
Mike Nelson Mark Wallinger (a nominee in 1995) won for State Britain. The award show and ceremony were held in Tate Liverpool, and the prize was sponsored by Milligan. The prize was presented by Dennis Hopper.
2008 Mark Leckey Sculpture, film, sound, performance
Cathy Wilkes No prize sponsor: funded by the Tate.
2009 Richard Wright Site-specific painting
Lucy Skaer —
2010 Susan Philipsz Sound installation
Angela de la Cruz
The Otolith Group (Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun) Susan Philipsz is the first sound artist to be nominated and the first to win.
2011 Martin Boyce Installation Karla Black
George Shaw Exhibition at the Baltic Gallery in Gateshead from 21 October 2011 to 8 January 2012
2012 Elizabeth Price Video
Paul Noble —
2013 Laure Prouvost Installation, collage, film
Tino Sehgal —
2014 Duncan Campbell Video
Tris Vonna-Michell —
2015 Assemble Architecture and design
Nicole Wermers —
2016 Helen Marten Installation
Josephine Pryde —
2017 Lubaina Himid Painting
Andrea Büttner The jury featured Dan Fox, Co-Editor at Frieze; Martin Herbert, art critic; Mason Leaver-Yap, Walker Art Center’s Bentson Scholar of Moving Image in Minneapolis, and associate Curator at Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin; and Emily Pethick, Director, The Showroom, London.
2018 Charlotte Prodger Video
Luke Willis Thompson The 2018 jury comprises Oliver Basciano, art critic and International Editor at ArtReview; Elena Filipovic, Director, Kunsthalle Basel; Lisa Le Feuvre, Executive Director, Holt-Smithson Foundation; and Tom McCarthy, novelist and writer.
2019 Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Tai Shani, Oscar Murillo
Oscar Murillo Film, spoken word performance, and painting Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Oscar Murillo. The prize was to be sponsored by Stagecoach South East but this was quickly dropped after criticism from the LGBT community. The prize was shared by all nominees after they wrote a letter asking the judges not to choose a single winner. The jury featured Alessio Antoniolli, Director, Gasworks & Triangle Network; Elvira Dyangani Ose, Director of The Showroom Gallery and Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths; Victoria Pomery, Director, Turner Contemporary, Margate and Charlie Porter, writer.
2020 Cancelled Bursaries:
Liz Johnson Artur
Sidsel Meineche Hansen
Arika The 2020 prize was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. Instead a £10,000 bursary was given to ten artists.
2021 Array Collective Installation and theatre
Project Art Works
2022 Veronica Ryan Sculpture
Sin Wai Kin
2023 Jesse Darling
Barbara Walker 2023
Prize winner will be announced on 5 December at Towner Eastbourne.