It could only be Turner: Suspended ball of plastic is favourite to win prize

Last updated at 3:26 PM on 5th May 2011

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It’s Saturday so that means it’s Turner Prize time again. In other words, contemporary-art-bashing-time as far as the ever open-minded Daily Mail is concerned. I always know that very year at least one of the “news” papers will come up with something like this and it really is heartening to see that in the 21st century the Daily Mail still keeps this tradition alive and well. So in the name of balance and actual consideration I will also include this excellent interview with the ever direct and straight talking Godfrey Worsdale, Director of the BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art.

Martin Boyce

 My main theme today however is Martin Boyce and the work which has gained him finalist status. The work included in the Turner prize exhibition is credited as being nominated for Boyce’s show a Library of Leaves at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in 2010, but this is actually just part of an ongoing dialogue that the artist has been carrying out with mid 20th century modernism through various shows, most famously at the Biennale di Venezia, 53rd International Exhibition of Art for the Scottish Pavilion, 2009.

 I have spent a great deal of time looking at Boyce’s work recently, I only wish the I had had the chance to see the new installation at Baltic before I came to write this but through a combination of my foreknowledge I seem to have a very good idea of what it will look like. The elements are always similar, the colours and scales may vary, but the sculptural metal trees, based on the Martel brothers concrete trees of 1925, are bound to be the main feature. Forms derived from these trees will then inform the rest of the show; leaves, benches, a gazebo and maybe a telephone kiosk will all occupy the space creating an atmosphere something akin to a surreal, abandoned, park. Somewhere where perhaps the players in one of his much-loved Antonioni films may wander in the faux leaves, but never do. Boyce has described his work as: “a peculiar landscape: a collapse of the interior and the exterior world”, whilst one critic described it as: “a kind of faded dreamscape that resembles in turn a drained pool, an abandoned garden or park, and an empty aviary”.

This work must not however just be taken on face value, no matter how haunting and captivating that may be. Boyce’s interest in the passage of time and its effect on this urban landscape and the objects that frame it cuts through the silence of the space. The aesthetic ideals and political landscapes are of another time, only half remembered, not here reviewed but reinvented perhaps as an alterative history.  The objects are out of time, did they ever really exist before? We are left in our silence park to consider it.

Meanwhile watch this great installation video to get a real feel for Boyce’s work. Tomorrow I will look at a past years Turner Prize competition and next Saturday, Karla Black. But please keep following me daily on here for my own work as its created at the Cow House Studios artist residency.

And read more about Martin Boyce at: