Glasgow graduates dominate Turner prize nominees

"Workshop (2010 - ongoing) 2013"  by Ciara Phillips, a nominee for the 2014 Turner Prize. Picture: PA
"Workshop (2010 - ongoing) 2013" by Ciara Phillips, a nominee for the 2014 Turner Prize. Picture: PA
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GLASGOW’s booming visual art scene has been given another boost after laying a claim to three of the four nominees for this year’s Turner Prize.

Duncan Campbell, Ciara Phillips and Tris Vonna-Michell, all graduates of Glasgow School of Art, will compete with German-based James Richards after being shortlisted for Britain’s most coveted art honour ahead of the December award ceremony.

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) boasts four former winners, while another two to take home the prize have strong links with the city.

The success for Campbell, Phillips and Vonna-Michell in the competition’s landmark 30th year means almost one in three contenders for the last ten Turner Prize shortlists has been GSA graduates.

Their nominations are a timely coup for Glasgow ahead of it hosting the Turner Prize next year.

However, it is not known if artists working in Scotland will be eligible for 2015’s competition, which is run by the Tate Britain gallery, if the country becomes independent.

Organisers insist it is “too early to comment” on the impact of a Yes vote on the Turner Prize, which recognises “an artist’s significant contribution to British art”.

The current criteria states: “For the purpose of nomination, the term British applies to all artists working in the United Kingdom and to British-born artists who may be working abroad.”

The appearance of the three GSA graduates on the shortlist for the £25,000 prize was ­announced less than a month after the art school revealed its new £50 million campus development, which has been created opposite its Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed building.

Dublin-born Campbell graduated with a masters in fine art from GSA in 1998 and lives and works in the city. He was shortlisted for his film It For Others, which is described as an examination of cultural imperialism and commodity. It was shown at the Venice Biennale last year.

Also based in Glasgow is Canadian-born artist Phillips, 37, who graduated with an MFA from the art school in 2004. She has been picked by bookmakers as the favourite to win.

Phillips, who specialises in screenprints on different materials including textiles, banners and walls, made the shortlist thanks to an exhibition at The Showroom in London.

Vonna-Michell, 31, who is originally from Southend-on-Sea, graduated with a BA in fine art photography from GSA in 2005. The artist was nominated for a show at a gallery in Brussels that used slide projections and an audio narration to create a piece inspired by his mother’s childhood growing up in Berlin.

The final contender, Cardiff-born Richards, 30, is also nominated for work shown at the Venice Biennale last year – a black and white video, which featured censored images from a state library in Tokyo.

Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis, chair of the judging panel, said: “The four shortlisted artists share a strong international presence and an ability to adapt, restage and reinterpret their own and others’ works.”

GSA director Professor Tom Inns said: “We’re delighted that three of our graduates have made the shortlist for the 30th annual Turner Prize.”


Latest triumph puts city’s art scene in the picture once more

SUCCESS for Glasgow School of Art graduates in the Turner is nothing new. It is now 18 years since Douglas Gordon triumphed in the competition, after all.

But there has certainly been a growing momentum over the past decade or so, with three winners in the form of Simon Starling, Martin Boyce and Richard Wright.

Along with one of last year’s contenders, David Shrigley, there have been a host of other GSA graduates in the list of nominees.

The city also has a strong claim on two other Turner Prize winners, with Susan Philipsz, who was born and brought up in the city before studying sculpture in Dundee, triumphing in 2010, and Martin Creed, who lived in Glasgow from the age of three, winning in 2001.

For the art school to notch up another three nominations this year is nothing short of a major triumph which has brought a fresh wave of attention to the city’s booming visual art scene.

As The Scotsman art critic Moira Jeffrey points out, the city’s visual artists have a “global reach” with multiple generations of GSA graduates now making waves around the world.

It is hard to imagine a better build-up to Glasgow hosting the Turner Prize for the first time in 2015.