Glasgow and the Turner Prize: one is infamous within the UK for its obscurity and incomprehensible language – the other is a prestigious art award. Between October and January, the Turner Prize shortlist for 2015 will be exhibited in Glasgow’s Tramway gallery.
So why is this such exciting news? Although Glasgow has long been a hub for unique and avant-garde art, this exhibition is of particular importance.
Since 2011, the Turner has been exhibited in a different city every other year, in what it calls ‘an effort to bring new audiences to contemporary art’ – a diplomatic reference to the fact that quality exhibitions and opportunities are too often reserved for high profile galleries in economically privileged areas. The Tramway will be the first Scottish venue to host the prize. As people in the UK become increasingly aware of London-centricism in arts funding and opportunities, the opportunity to host an internationally renowned award is a significant feather in Glasgow’s cap.
Glasgow has long been a champion of accessibility. In our many public galleries, art is available to people of all backgrounds and classes, rather than the preserve of an elite. This allows for essential components of art experience to be fulfilled; engagement, debate and participation. The exhibition is free to attend, and Tramway promises ‘an extensive programme of workshops, talks, tours and activities for people of all ages to get involved and be inspired’.
As a city, we now have an ideal platform to demonstrate the vibrancy and diversity of arts and culture on offer in Glasgow. Exhibiting the Turner is another step towards shedding the safe, chocolate box imagery which plagues national perceptions of Scotland and its art. Glasgow and the Turner may share a certain reputation for controversy, but it’s our inclusivity and forward thinking which will prove us worthy hosts.
[Helen Victoria Murray]