Exhibition Review: Turner Prize – Tramway, Glasgow

Turner Prize

By Nicola McFadyen


After a very reasonably priced scone in the café of Tramway, I found myself in the imposing hangar-like space in which this year’s Turner Prize is being displayed. For the Turner Prize, which has had previous winners such as Damien Hirst, to be in Glasgow this year is huge. It’s the first time the exhibition has even been held in Scotland, so for Glasgow to be chosen as the exhibiting city is truly something special, and I was excited to see what it had in store. However, by the end of it, I wasn’t really sure how to feel. I feel it’s something that’s been talked up to be something it’s not, and for me, the whole thing fell a little flat.

The work of the first nominee, Nicole Wermer, was arguably my favourite work of the exhibition. The principle of her work is fur coats stitched to the back of chairs, to indicate making temporary things permanent. She states that “people use coats on seatbacks to mark a temporary personal space for themselves in a public setting” and for some reason, this principle resonated deeply with me.

Secondly it was Bonnie Camplin’s work, which featured a bank of televisions in the middle of the room, with interviews playing from six different people; the premise of the work is to explore the ideas of creation and mental health. One of the interviewees claimed she had been abducted by aliens, and the reading material provided around the edge of the room, spanning everything from conspiracy theories to medical research, was fascinating in itself, and – have you the time – would provide hours of engagement.

My least favourite of the works was Janice Kerbel’s ‘DOUG’, which is listed as being ‘nine songs for six voices’. When the singers came into the performance space, there were only four of them, and only one of the vocalists really performed until the very end of the piece, at which stage the other three joined in for a grand total of about 12 seconds. I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to be looking at; feeling; engaging with, and despite the rave reviews I’d heard about the piece, I was simply left feeling confused.

The final work, of Assemble, despite enjoying Wermer’s aesthetic the most, is the clear winner in my mind. A London based collective who work is the field of art and design to help create affordable housing, particularly in Granby Street in Liverpool; their exhibition is a showcase of their work that is available for purchase, in order to fund their worthy cause.

As I have said previously, for the Turner Prize to be held in Scotland, let alone Glasgow, is amazing in itself, and I definitely felt it was worth going to see (even if just to say that I’d seen it), but for me, after all the hype surrounding it, was something that left me wanting.


*The Turner Prize runs at the Tramway from 1st October – 17th January 2016, and the winner will be announced live on 7th December on Channel 4.