Jesse Darling wins 2023 Turner Prize for work that “unsettles” with unconventional materials
The award follows a year of installations by the artist that critique the inhospitable nature of the UK state.
- Olivia Hingley
- 6 December 2023
The 2023 Turner Prize has been awarded to Jesse Darling, a multi-disciplinary artist who works across sculpture, installation, text and drawing. The £25,000 prize was awarded specifically for his recent dystopia-inspired installation practice which includes everyday, often discarded materials like pedestrian barriers, faded and torn Union Jack flags, office folders, barrier tape and stone. These installations have been shown across two exhibitions over the past year, No Medals, No Ribbons, at Modern Art Oxford and Enclosures at Camden Art Centre.
The installation was celebrated by the judges for its commentary on the “social breakdown” in Britain, and the way it “unsettles perceived notions of labour, class, Britishness and power”, a press release outlines. Significant past work from the artist, who studied art and design at Central Saint Martins and received an MFA from Slade School of Fine Art, includes The Ballad of Saint Jerome, include an exhibition at Tate Britain that applied sculpture and drawing to explore themes of gender, sexuality and disability, and to comment on the vulnerability of the human body.
The shortlist for the prize included the conceptual artist Ghislaine Leung; the multidisciplinary artist Rory Pilgrim; and figurative artist Barbara Walker. There will be an exhibition running at Towner Eastbourne until 14 April 2024, adjacent to the Eastbourne Winter Garden, where this year’s prize was awarded.
Accepting the award, The Guardian reported that the artist critiqued the legacy of Margaret Thatcher and her attack on art provision in schools. “She paved the way for the greatest trick the Tories ever played, which is to convince working people in Britain that studying, self expression and what the broadsheet supplements describe as ‘culture’ is only for certain people in Britain from certain socio-economic backgrounds. I just want to say don’t buy in, it’s for everyone.” Following this, the artist pulled a Palestinian flag from his front pocket and raised it to the audience. Jesse reportedly said he did this, “because there’s a genocide going on and I wanted to say something about it on the BBC”.
In 2022, the award was accepted by the sculpture artist Veronica Ryan, who was nominated for her solo exhibition Along a Spectrum and her Windrush Artwork Commission in Hackney, which saw her create large-scale public art sculptures of three Caribbean fruits: Custard Apple, Breadfruit and Soursop.
Jesse Darling (Copyright © David Parry, 2023)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.