Charlotte Prodger’s art old hat? Kids book puts critic straight – leader comment

Turner Prize winner Charlotte Prodger (centre) with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (left) and Tate director Maria Balshaw during the award ceremony at Tate Britain in London (Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
Turner Prize winner Charlotte Prodger (centre) with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (left) and Tate director Maria Balshaw during the award ceremony at Tate Britain in London (Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
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The children’s book Old Hat, New Hat, tells the story of a bear who decides to buy a new hat.

Each one the bear tries doesn’t seem quite right – one’s too silly, another too red, a third too wrinkly, on and on it goes, but then, amid the pile of rejected hats, there’s the perfect fit – the old hat. “Just right,” says the bear and walks off.

Such a simple philosophical idea may have been missed by the art critic Waldemar Januszczak, given he decided to criticise the Charlotte Prodger’s Turner Prize-winning video as “old hat”, adding that he wished people would “stop thinking there is still something avant-garde about film and video”.

READ MORE: Glasgow-based artist Charlotte Prodger wins 2018 Turner Prize

Art is not about the format; it is about the meaning. And the Glasgow-based artist’s highly personal account of coming out as gay in rural Scotland is a work that will have meaning to many people in this country and beyond.

Januszczak’s criticism also seems to suggest that a painting – perhaps the oldest hat in the art world, dating back to ancient cave paintings – could not be “avant-garde”. The Scotsman begs to differ and offers its congratulations to a new leading light in Scotland’s arts scene.

READ MORE: Film created in Scotland on an iPhone a highlight of Turner Prize nominees show