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Martin Boyce - Turner Prize Winner 2011

Unlike his work, Martin Boyce doesn't appear to have any angles. Two
days before scooping the 2011 Turner Prize for 'A Library of Leaves',
his 2010 show at the Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, the
Hamilton-born, Glasgow School of Art trained maker of desolate and
often decimated imaginary futurescapes sounds quietly relaxed about the
forthcoming bunfight.

“Everything's done and dusted, really,” a chirpy-sounding Boyce says of
'Do Words Have Voices', an impressionistic imagining of a park in
autumn that forms his contribution to the Turner show at the Baltic,
Newcastle. “I'm just polishing my shoes and pressing my socks.”

The last two years has seen Boyce's cache rise with a series of
elaborately wide-open constructions clearly drawn from the same
parallel universe as both these exhibitions. Boyce represented Scotland
at the 2009 Venice Bienale with 'No Reflections', presented by Dundee
Contemporary Arts. This year's Modern Institute show, the deliciously
titled 'night terrace – lantern chains – forgotten seas – sky', evoked
hinted-at sense memories with a conscious sense of mood and place. In
all, what Boyce has described as “a collapse of architecture and
nature” takes place in woozily-epic environments cast adrift in a
topsy-turvy world.

Boyce is the third Turner winner on the trot to have either trained or
be based in Glasgow. As his acceptance speech made clear while praising
his alma mater, however, it was his GSA peer group, who included 1996
Turner winner Douglas Gordon and 2007 shortlistee Nathan Coley, that
counted.

“I remember at the time thinking everyone around me was amazing,” Boyce
says, “and they are. Some people were definitely out there knowing what
to do, then there were people like me, watching and learning how to do
things.”

If anything, Boyce says, the ongoing Turner hoo-hah over the last few
months has only distracted him from working on Screams and Lighthouses,
a forthcoming collaboration with film-maker David Mackenzie and Glasgow
Improvisors Orchestra saxophonist Raymond MacDonald. Enabled by a
Creative Scotland Vital Spark award and set to be performed at Tramway,
Screams and Lighthouses will see each artist explore one another's
practice.

“We've been on this long adventure,” Boyce explains. “The whole thing's
about improvisation, with no real aim in mind. So while David won't be
making a film, there will be filmic elements, but the whole thing's
partly to find somewhere we can all be in the same place.”

As for the effect of the Turner, Boyce is typically understated.

“The nicest thing about it is being able to tell your mum and the
people you talk to when you drop the kids off at school. They know what
the Turner is. But I think the reality is that you go back to what you
were doing before. You maybe get more invitations to go on panels or
whatever, or get asked to say what your top ten movies are [sure
enough, a top ten of Boyce's favourite songs has already appeared on
art publishers Phaidon Press' website], but for me personally, I'm
really not sure what difference it makes.”

The List, December 2011

ends

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