WINNER: The Turner Prize at Baltic
VISITOR figures never tell the full story of the impact of an event – but they’re not a bad place to start.
Take The Turner Prize at BALTIC. The controversial exhibition brought in more than 140,000 visitors to the gallery – more than a third of its annual average – as people from all over the region, the UK and further afield descended to take in the 2011 Turner offering.
The artists on the shortlist were George Shaw, Martin Boyce, Karla Black and Hilary Lloyd whose work was exhibited at the gallery until the first week of 2012.
We know now of course that it was Scottish artist Boyce who was crowned winner live on Channel Four (with a cheque for £25,000 and photographer Mario Testino waiting in the wings), but there’s no doubt that the gallery, and the region were winners too. This was the first time the prestigious competition had ventured out of the London to a non-Tate venue (its 2007 outing to Liverpool ahead of the city’s Capital of Culture year saw it take residence at Tate Liverpool) and it was deemed a big, fat success.
Sir Nicolas Serota, director of Tate and instigator of the Turner Prize, said it had been a pleasure to work with a Baltic team under its director, Godfrey Worsdale and that the Turner Prize – a national competition should be seen outside the capital.
Ann Cooper, head of communications at BALTIC, says: “2012 was an amazing time for BALTIC. In a year when we not only achieved a Turner Prize nominated exhibition with George Shaw’s Sly and Unseen Day we were also, thanks to Tate, given the opportunity to host the exhibition and event.
“Following the announcement of the shortlisted artists we created the Turner Prize Café which travelled across the region, bringing the debate on Contemporary Art and the shortlisted artists to people from all walks of life. The public response exceeded all our expectations with thousands of people queuing for entry during the exhibition opening few weeks.”
DURHAM city was transformed in shining style as thousands turned out to enjoy the second Lumiere festival.
It was two years since the cathedral city had been bathed in a series of creative light installations, and this incarnation was no less stunning than the first.
Ross Ashton’s wonderful Crown of Light display projected images of the Lindisfarne Gospels against Durham Cathedral were back by popular demand.
Alongside this unmissable spectacle were many new examples of the art of illumination.
Inside the cathedral nave and cloisters many of the 150,000 visitors saw Spirit, by French “fire alchemists” Compagnie Carabosse, a spectacular piece involving lanterns fashioned from vests and evoking County Durham’s mining heritage.
Neon works by Tracey Emin and Martin Creed offered words of advice while Splash, by landscape artist Peter Lewis, transformed the Kingsgate footbridge into an illuminated waterfall dropping 500,000 litres of water an hour into the River Wear.
Among other Lumiere highlights were Brothers and Sisters, Ron Haselden’s giant LED lighting versions of children’s drawings of their classmates and LED’s Dance, an interactive dance floor by Dorota Kraft, of Poland.
Kate James, festival and events manager, Durham County Council, says: “Lumiere 2011 was the second outing for the Artichoke produced festival, and this was a far more complex project than the first event.
“The nominations are testament to the work undertaken by all of the partners involved.”
FINALIST: Matt Stokes
A long-term enquiry into music subcultures informs the practice of Newcastle-based artist Matt Stokes.
Music which finds itself firmly at the ‘hardcore metal’ end of the spectrum was given centre stage in the large-scale film installation Cantata Profana, which was exhibited at BALTIC throughout September and October 2011, having been created for a solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany.
The piece was a choral presentation, created in collaboration with leading UK composer Orlando Gough.
This work focused on “the intense physicality of extreme metal vocalists and the ability of their music to immerse a listener and transcend the individual performer or group”.
Matt says: “I had a number of solo shows last year, and it was really good to be showing older works alongside new projects such as ‘Cantata Profana’, a large six-screen installation. Helps give perspective to what I’ve produced in the past, and what I hope to do in the future.”