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Simon Starling's feat

The Scottish installation artist bagged UK's controversial Turner Prize for his art on a shed.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2005 11:48 IST

Simon Starling, an installation artist who dismantled a shed and rode its pieces down one of Europe's main rivers before putting it back together again, was named the winner of the Turner prize, Britain's most controversial art award.

The 38-year-old Scottish artist's entry featured Shedboatshed, a shed he took apart, turned into a boat that he paddled down the Rhine, and then reconstructed as a shed. Another part of his entry was Tabernas Desert Run, a moped Starling rode across a Spanish desert. The vehicle generated power using only compressed bottled hydrogen and oxygen from the desert air.

The only waste product from the moped's crossing was water, which he collected in a bottle and later used in a watercolor painting of a cactus he saw on his travels through Andalusia. Starling, who describes his work as "the physical manifestation of a thought process," was presented with a check for 25,000 pounds (US$43,000; euro37,000) during a ceremony Monday night at London's Tate Britain gallery by Culture Minister David Lammy.

"I don't like to be thought of as eccentric because that's not what my work is about," he told the audience. "It's a serious business on many levels."

Explaining Shedboatshed, Starling said: "It's a bit of mobile architecture."

"I went on a little expedition up the Rhine to find a structure I could use for a project and I found this shed," he said. "It had a paddle on the side so it was just an incredible piece of luck." "It's about slowing things down, about trying to retard this incredible speed at which we live," he added.

 
Simon Starling stands in front of his piece entitled 'Shedboatshed' after winning the Turner Prize, at the Tate Britain gallery in London on December 5, 2005. Starling won the prestigious arts prize worth 25,000 pounds sterling

The favorite to win this year's prize had been Gillian Carnegie, a painter whose work includes still lifes, landscapes and a series of nudes she calls "bum paintings." She was the first nominee in five years who exclusively uses the medium of paint. Judges have in the past honored a transvestite potter, a painter who daubs his work with elephant dung and a man who pickles livestock.

But the prize once synonymous with taboo-flouting Brit Art upstarts such as cow-pickler Damien Hirst, dung painter Chris Ofili and cross-dressing potter Grayson Perry has mellowed. This year's finalists were more quirky than controversial.

The other nominees this year included Darren Almond, a multimedia artist whose entry included a video installation of his widowed grandmother revisiting the seaside town where she spent her honeymoon; and musician and DJ Jim Lambie, whose "psychedelic floor pieces" include one created from crosshatched stripes of black, white and silver tape beneath paint-covered statues of birds. The Turner Prize show is at London's Tate Modern gallery until January 22.

First Published: Dec 06, 2005 15:09 IST