The Turner Prize was established in 1984 to commend new developments in contemporary art. The prize, which has varied in value, is awarded to ‘a British artist under 50, for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding.’ The Turner Prize has been controversial since it was established for varying reasons; for artworks, such as Tracy Emin’s infamous My Bed, that have drawn scorn from critics, for protests by arts students over funding cuts, and for the inclusion of new artistic mediums, such as video art.
This year, the Turner Prize is coming to Scotland for the first time, and will be held in Tramway from 1st October –17th January, accompanied by workshops and events.
Nominees whose artist’s books are held in GSA Library’s collection include Ian Hamilton Finlay, Douglas Gordon, Tacita Dean, Christine Borland, and David Shrigley. Bonnie Camplin, a 2015 nominee, also has work featured in two artist’s books in GSA Library’s collection.
Ian Hamilton Finlay was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1985. Well known for his concrete poetry, plays and booklets, Hamilton also ran his own publishing company, The Wild Hawthorn Press. GSA Library holds a large collection of Finlay’s works spanning from 1960 to 2006.
Douglas Gordon, a GSA alumnus, was the first video artist to win the Turner Prize in 1996, confirming film and video art as a legitimate medium. His work is centred on the themes of perception, memory, and time. Many of his artist’s books are held at GSA, along with a copy of his student dissertation.
In 1998, another video artist, Tacita Dean, was also nominated for the award. Her work is often mysterious and minimal, with the ocean as a frequent motif. The artist’s books on display here are both exemplary of this. Teignmouth Electron focuses on the beached yacht of would-be world-renowned yachtsman Donald Crowhurst, and The Green Ray focuses on a rare and beautiful optical phenomenon occurring over the ocean.
David Shrigley, another GSA alumnus, was nominated for the prize in 2013 for an exhibition which included not only his darkly funny drawings but that also included photography, film and sculpture. More controversial than his nomination, Shrigley was recently commissioned to design Partick Thistle F.C.’s mascot, which received a lot of press for its unconventional design.
Christine Borland, also a graduate of GSA, was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1997, when the shortlist was composed entirely of women for the first time. Her works are often centred on the theme of forensic science. The Monster’s Monologue, the artist’s book on display, is a transcript of a young boy reading from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Bonnie Camplin, one of this year’s nominees, studied film and video, but her work also includes drawing, music, and performance. She has contributed material to two artist’s books in GSA Library’s collection, Remixed Water and Slim Volume 2005.
These artist’s books and others are on display on the ground floor of GSA Library, with more information.