From Tracey Emin’s unmade bed with its discarded cigarette packets to Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde, the Turner Prize is never far from the headlines.
Now the creativity and controversy which the most talked-about prize in British contemporary arts generates is heading for Hull - after the announcement today that it will host the prestigious prize as part of its year as UK City of Culture in 2017.
It will be held in the city’s Ferens Art Gallery and will be only the fourth venue outside London to present the Turner Prize, following the Baltic in Gateshead, Ebrington in Derry-Londonderry and this year’s venue, Tramway in Glasgow.
Named after one of the country’s best-known artists, the Turner Prize is given annually to one of four artists shortlisted for an outstanding exhibition they have held in the last year.
Often controversial, exhibits have included My Bed, a dishevelled bed by Tracey Emin (1999), as well as a shark in formaldehyde by Leeds artist Damien Hirst.
Neither won, although Hirst later did with a bisected cow and calf in 1995.
Other winners have included Martin Creed’s installation featuring a light going on and off and Grayson Perry’s pots tackling subjects like death and child abuse. He accepted his prize in 2003 wearing a dress.
The Turner Prize was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art and was named after painter J M W Turner. Four shortlisted artists present works in a show normally held at Tate Britain before the winner is announced - but in two years’ time - between October 2017 and January 2018 - the prize will be staged in Hull.
Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said: “We are delighted that the Turner Prize will be presented at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull as part of the vibrant UK City of Culture programme.
“Alternating the prize between venues in the UK and Tate Britain has given the prize a new dynamic and deepened our relationships with audiences outside London.”
As part of Hull’s preparations for its year as UK City of Culture, the gallery will undergo a major £4m facelift. Funded by Hull City Council and a £1m cash injection from the Treasury and £500,000 from Arts Council England small capital grants programme, the work will allow the Ferens to host higher calibre exhibitions and to secure the preservation of existing collections for future generations.
Opened in 1927, the gallery was gifted to the city by TR Ferens, a local industrialist who also established a purchasing fund that has allowed the Ferens’ collections to grow in quality and range. It has acquired and commissioned works by living artists and was the first public institution to acquire a work by David Hockney in 1962 and more recent acquisitions include a neon artwork by Dutch contemporary artist Bik van der Pol.
With an outstanding permanent collection including works by Canaletto, Frans Hals, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and previous Turner prize winners Gillian Wearing and Mark Wallinger, the Ferens is one of the reasons why Hull was chosen to be the next UK City of Culture.