img_5689I recently visited the Turner Prize 2016 at Tate Britain. There are 4 artists, 3 of them women (there’s that number 3 again!). It’s refreshing for women to be in the majority.

So the odds are for a woman to win this year.

I thought my choice would be a woman before I visited. I thought I would like Anthea Hamilton’s work the most.

But I’ve changed my mind. My money is now on Michael Dean.


Why the about face? Well I do like Anthea Hamilton’s work. It’s fresh and accessible. But ultimately it doesn’t move me. My thoughts aren’t provoked, my senses aren’t pricked. Yes I am amused but that’s not really what I seek from art. And I can’t help thinking that I’d like the brick suit much more if the bricks were painted on the suit rather than it being sewn from material printed with a brick pattern. I have no idea why that matters to me, but it does.

The largechastity-belts mural of the London sky at 3pm on a sunny day in June is good but I don’t get the chastity belts hanging on chains.

The big gold butt is also impressive but simply stirs idle thoughts like why isn’t there a butthole? I know there is probably threat in all of this but I don’t feel it.

Helen Marten’s work doesn’t do much for me. An interesting mix of handmades and ready mades but I don’t really get what it’s saying. One of the pieces is of more interest to me than the others. Human life interrupted perhaps but why do just legs remain? Where is the torso? What does the painted backdrop all mean? But it’s only an idle wondering. I’m not that intrigued. Perhaps it’s all a bit too clever by half.

I like Josephine Pryde’s work more than I thought I would. To be precise, I like the worktops. She has taken kitchen worktops, turned them to the underside and left them in sunlight with objects on them in London, Athens and Berlin. The resulting marks are intriguing. There are several worktops and they work wjoell together. I like the one with several circles on most. It reminds me of a record deck and records. I’m not too taken with her train though – a scale model of a Class 66 diesel locomotive and carriages although I do like the graffiti tags by artists from the cities where the train has been exhibited. Her photographs of hands touching everyday objects such as phones and notebooks are interesting enough but instantly forgettable. Except the pine cone. I remember that one.

Which leads me to the boy – Michael Dean. His work does everything for me that good art should do. I found fun in it, but also sadness and intrigue. It is fascinating. It’s like an ethereal landscape. Like Derek Jarman’s garden at Dungeness punctuated by figurative forms. Dean’s sculptures made from everyday life such as concrete, corrugated metal, and steel are not instantly recognisable as figures but that fact gradually dawns on you. The boreholes representing eyes, the body parts spread around subtly. The work is very tactile (though don’t touch) and you can wander around it like it’s a real landscape. It’s very textural. The shingle over wire, the boot prints in the mud all draw the viewer in. And of course there are the coins! £20,436 in one pence coins representing the poverty line for two adults and two children in the UK. Dean has taken one coin away meaning it’s now below the poverty line.  The coins themselves are fascinating. Some very shiny, others dull, some a delicious Verdigris green, some blackened. His sculptures representing this fictional family are emotive and evocative. The strangest and most surprising thing about his work is the stickers, business cards, duct tape and so on bearing inscriptions like 4 shore, shore shores, reshoring & shoress. The tape implies there is a financial penalty for such activity as shoring.


penniesI’ve not always been impressed with the Turner Prize artists in recent years, but found real gems this year. I don’t know who the judges will select as the winner but I’m putting my pennies on Michael Dean.  Just not 2,043,600 of them!