Urban regenerators Assemble win Turner prize

Assemble architectural and design collective that uses art, design to tackle urban dereliction in Liverpool becomes first non-artists to win

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Three members of Assemble – Lewis Jones, Amica Dall and Fran Edgerley – inside A Showroom for Granby Workshop, created for the Turner prize show

The Assemble collective that helped renovate a rundown area of Liverpool to try to stem the tide of gentrification won Britain's Turner Prize for contemporary art on Monday.

The prize, established in 1984 and run in partnership with the Tate museums, carries a 25,000-pound ($37,660)cash award. In the past, it has gone mostly to visual and conceptual artists such as Anthony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst.

Many houses in the Liverpool neighbourhood had suffered severe damage in 1981 riots and been earmarked for demolition until residents banded together, sold produce to support renewal efforts and invited London-based Assemble to help out.

"The jury has awarded the prize to Assemble who work in tandem with communities to realise a ground-up approach to regeneration, city planning and development in opposition to corporate gentrification," the jury said in Glasgow, the first time the event has been held in Scotland.

"They draw on long traditions of artistic and collective initiatives that experiment in art, design and architecture," the jury said in a statement, citing the collective's project of renewing the Granby Four Streets neighbourhood of Liverpool.

Art historian William Greenwood speaking to TRT World said, "The Turner Prize is a blockbuster, not everyone knows what goes in it but it is exciting," adding "the aim of art is to upset and confuse, to bring about dilemma. It makes people get exited for something bettter. And the collective of the young designers make it."

The London-based collective, a group of young art, design and architecture specialists, takes a holistic approach to renewal, saying their work aims "to address the disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made".

The collective not only undertakes housing renovation with low-cost materials, but also creates a means to sustain the redevelopment by manufacturing and selling objects based on the designs found in social housing, including everything from fireplaces to tiles to ceramic door handles.

The collective publishes an online catalogue of their offerings at www.granbyworkshop.co.uk and says the proceeds "will support a programme engaging young people aged 13 to 18 in creative, practical projects".

The other three finalists were a live sound work by Janice Kerbel, an installation by Nicole Wermers of stainless steel chairs with fur coats sewn into the seat backs, and a video installation by Bonnie Camplin which asked viewers to think about seemingly outrageous accounts by people shown on video saying they were brainwashed by aliens or kidnapped by cults.