Exeter alumna Helen Marten (2005, Fine Art) has won the Turner Prize. It comes less than a month after she received the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture.
She received the 2016 Turner Prize for projects including her presentation at the 56th Venice Biennale and the solo exhibition Eucalyptus, Let Us In at Greene Naftali, New York.
The 31-year-old artist, who was born in Macclesfield, was presented with her £25,000 prize by the writer Ben Okri at a ceremony at London’s Tate Britain gallery. She has pledged to share the prize money with her fellow nominees, Anthea Hamilton, Josephine Pryde, and Michael Dean.
Miss Marten said she was feeling “numb” after being named winner, but “deeply honoured”.
The chair of judges, Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson, said Miss Marten, who is based in London, was making work which had real longevity and was using objects, forms and images in a similar way to a poet using language.
“The judges were impressed by the complexity of the work, its amazing formal qualities, its disparate materials and techniques and also how it relates to the world … how it often suggests meaning, but those meanings are all in flux somehow. One image, one form becomes another.”
Miss Marten’s work resists being pinned down and that is a good thing, said Farquharson. “It is like experience of the world in real time, it reflects a complex world, not one that can be boiled down to singular statements or buzzwords.
“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.”
Miss Marten uses sculpture, screen printing and writing to produce works that are full of models and motifs taken from contemporary visual culture. Through placement of her collage-like accumulation of these familiar reference points alongside immaculately crafted handmade objects, Marten creates poetic, pictorial puzzles that draw on the gestures and imagery of our everyday lives. These seem to generate entirely new meanings for what we think we understand about the world around us.