The Turner Prize is perhaps the best-known art prize in the UK. Established in 1984, and open to artists working in all media, it has been praised and criticised in equal measure. It was once a sure thing for tabloid journalists who could generally rely on the annual list of contemporary art contenders as a source of multiple ‘is this art?’ pieces.
It hasn’t had quite the same impact in recent years as it regularly achieved in the 1990s, but while the tabloids have moved on, punters have been trying their luck in increasing numbers in recent years, and the Turner Prize winner’s market has become a staple for Awards punters.
It is also one of the trickiest of the various Awards markets to predict, which is reflected by the wide-open nature of the betting market each year. Last year’s winner, Charlotte Prodger, was the outsider of the four nominees, but was generally available at odds of 100/30, and this year’s winner looks even tighter, with the favourite, Oscar Murillo, at 5/2 and the outsider of four, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, backable at 7/2. Helen Cammock and Tai Shani complete the field.
This year’s favourite, Murillo, was nominated for three exhibitions: his appearance at the 10th Berlin Biennale, and his solo exhibitions at Kettle’s Yard Cambridge and the Chi K11 museum in Shanghai. His work appears to cover all of the bases, incorporating painting, performance, sculpture, sound and drawing, and is notable for themes of globalisation and for its use of recycled materials.
His Turner entry appears to have a bit of everything, including papier mache models, a video of the artist transporting the models and a variety of painted canvasses. That versatility alone should stand Murillo in good stead with the judges, although in an event created to find the new and the shocking, being the long-time favourite isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Murillo is up against Lawrence Abu Hamdan, whose entry consists of audio-visual installations, as does that of Helen Cammock, but punters may be wary of backing either of those contenders given that all four artists on last year’s shortlist worked with the moving image.
That suggest Tai Shani as Murillo’s main competitor for her installation, DC: Semiramis an eye-catching model of a city with vivid colours, although as with her rivals, bookmakers are not taking any chances, rating Shani as a 3/1 chance, along with Cammock.