Jesse Darling wins 2023 Turner Art Prize for sculptures made of everyday debris

Winner explains why art is 'for everyone' after exhibiting his sculpture of everyday debris

Jesse Darling has announced as the winner of the 2023 Turner Prize. PA Wire
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British artist Jesse Darling has been awarded the 2023 Turner Prize for contemporary art.

The 42-year-old, who lives and works in Berlin, won £25,000 ($31,480) for his exhibition of sculptures made of everyday debris which he says reflects the political instability of our times.

Accepting the prize, Darling said his art “is something that a lot of the public can get behind” and explained how it helps to develop other skills.

He claimed former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher reduced the teaching of art in schools because it was not “economically productive”.

He explained: “She sort of paved the way for the greatest trick that the Tories ever pulled, which was to convince the working people of Britain that study, self-expression, and what the broadsheet supplements describe as culture, is only for particular kinds of people from particular socioeconomic backgrounds. I just want to say don't buy in. I'm talking to the public, I'm talking to the British public. Don't buy in, it's for everyone.”

Established in 1984 and named after British painter JMW Turner, the prestigious annual art prize is awarded to an artist born or based in the UK for an outstanding exhibition or presentation of their work in the past 12 months.

The jury commended Darling's use of materials and commonplace objects like concrete, welded barriers, hazard tape, office files and net curtains “to convey a familiar yet delirious world”.

It added: “Invoking societal breakdown, his presentation unsettles perceived notions of labour, class, Britishness and power.”

This year's jury was chaired by Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson.

The 2023 prize was announced at a ceremony in Eastbourne’s Winter Gardens, in south-east England, where Darling was presented with the award by British rapper and musician Tinie Tempah.

The other shortlisted contenders included Rory Pilgrim, who delivered a live performance at Cadogan Hall in London; Ghislaine Leung, who had a work featuring water pouring into the exhibition space through an opening in the ceiling; and Barbara Walker, who shone a light on families affected by the Windrush scandal.

– With additional reporting from agencies

Updated: December 06, 2023, 10:12 AM