Sentimentality, our unstable ecosystem, the complexity of Black history and the notion of reality are among the themes that feature in the 2022 Turner Prize exhibition at the Tate Liverpool. The winner receives a hefty sum of £25,000, alongside the niggling idea of the promise of fame.
Closing for a £30 million pound refurbishment in 2023, the Tate Liverpool is unveiling its final year with the Turner Prize, one of the most respected art prizes to be awarded in the UK. The likes of Richard Long, Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley are examples of the emerging artists who have made a breakthrough by winning the award in previous years. The current exhibition is showcasing 2022 winner Veronica Ryan and shortlisters Heather Phillipson, Ingrid Pollard and Sin Wai Kin, exemplifying a diverse range of multidisciplinary arts.
Beginning in an immersive space with brightly lit tv panels, the first artist, Heather Phillipson, explores our turbulent ecosystem with each panel showing off the half mooned eye of a big cat or scaly frog. After following the corridor along, you then enter into a room that is completely engrossing, with headphones hanging down from the ceiling to consume yet another one of the senses with loud natural noise, puncturing the room. It’s a sensory experience, pushing the viewer into an alternative ecological world.
Following from Phillipson, winner Veronica Ryan, a Black artist from Hackney, gathered a collection of memories from her life walking along Ridley Road Market where she took inspiration from exotic fruits and vegetables and created textured bronze and ceramic casts. Her work is tactile, with cushions cocooned in the corners of the egg yolk yellow room of the Tate, drawing connections to her Mum’s embroidery, from her childhood, amounting to a poignant scrapbook of historical possessions from the artist’s home and heritage.
The artwork on offer is extremely varied, moving from Ryan’s quaint found objects to cardboard cut-outs of Sin Wai Kin’s different personas, each exploring binary notions of reality. Femininity and masculinity, and reality and fantasy are some of the themes explored in aid of Kin’s artistic creation – a premonition of faces, each depicting an alternative persona of popular culture.
Also on show is Ingrid Pollard‘s collection of found objects, all of which extrapolate Black history in the UK.
It is difficult to side-step the issue of a critical scepticism concerning the jury that has come to the fore in recent reviews, with three of the six jurors representing galleries where short-listers had exhibited before. Nevertheless, the artistic content of the show was without a doubt impressive, in a multitude of different ways. What fell short for me was a peaceful exhibit being punctured with audio from the neighbouring rooms – a minor functionality that isn’t necessarily expected from The Tate.
It’s natural that the prize will be overly criticised; the Tate has successfully reached mass audiences for decades and the current exhibit is a must see before Tate Liverpool re-opens its doors in 2025.
With grateful thanks to Isabel Armitage for this review.