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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 04:49 GMT
Creed lights up Turner prize
Madonna and Martin Creed
Madonna told Creed award ceremonies were "silly"
Pop icon Madonna has presented the Turner Prize to minimalist artist Martin Creed for his work entitled The Lights Going On and Off.

Creed, 33, collected 20,000 for his controversial installation, which centres around an empty gallery with a pair of flashing lights.

The ceremony took place at London's Tate Britain, where Creed beat off competition from Mike Nelson, Richard Billingham and Isaac Julien.

Presenting the controversial prize, Madonna said said she was not generally a fan of awards ceremonies, which she said were "silly".

Martin Creed's exhibit
Martin Creed's exhibit has caused the most controversy
The star, who is also no stranger to hitting headlines, said: "Does the artist who wins the award become a better artist? Is it nice to win 20 grand?

"Definitely - but after spending time in this city, I can tell you that it won't last very long."

But she insisted the money was an irrelevance.

"Art is always at its best when there is no money, because it is nothing to do with money and everything to do with love," she said.

"It can be inspiring, inexplicable, provocative and infuriating, but we cannot live without it."

I think people can make of it what they like. I don't think it is for me to explain it

Martin Creed
And she said she was keen to back artists who had the nerve to express themselves.

Madonna also made a four-letter outburst during the live broadcast, for which Channel 4 had to apologise because it was before the 9pm watershed.

In an acceptance speech nearly as minimal as his art, Creed said merely that he wanted to say "thanks very much to a lot of people - nearly everyone".

He later admitted he did not have any plans on spending his prize, saying he would probably put it in the bank.

Creed: "Thanks very much to a lot of people"
Having said earlier he regarded Turner as "just a stupid prize", he said of his installation: "It doesn't make it a better piece of work just because it wins a prize."

And when asked the key question about the idea behind his winning exhibit, he said: "I think people can make of it what they like. I don't think it is for me to explain it.

"The thing for me is to try and make things, try and do things and show them to people - that's what I get excited about.

"I'd like to keep trying to do that."

Mike Nelson's work
Nelson's work has been mistaken for real storeroom
Nelson had been the favourite to win for his work entitled Cosmic Legend of the Uroboros Serpent - a dusty "storeroom" filled with an array disparate objects, including a plastic cactus, mirrors, doors and old tabloid newspapers.

Several visitors to the gallery had mistaken it for a storeroom at the gallery, before realising it was an artwork.

Film-maker Julien was in the running for his video of gay cowboys in a swimming pool.

The film had been the subject of a bitter artistic dispute over copyright between Julien and his one-time collaborator, the Venezuelan-born choreographer Javier de Frutos.

Ray in Bed
Billingham: Known for his portrayals of his family
The pair fell out over who had contributed most to the work with Julien obtaining a high court writ against de Frutos claiming formal recognition of his copyright for the film.

The issue was only recently resolved, allowing the work to be displayed at Tate Britain.

And Billingham, best-known for his photographic portraits of his family, was shortlisted for his landscape photographs and two video projections, Tony Smoking Backwards and Ray in Bed, Untitled Triptych.

Ray in Bed is a home video featuring Mr Billingham's alcoholic father reluctantly waking up as his wife brings him a cup of tea.

Isaac Julien
Julien: Known for making thought-provoking films
The Turner Prize selectors habitually make headline-grabbing choices - and have often been accused of sensationalism.

In 1998, Chris Ofili caused outrage when it was revealed elephant dung was used in his works.

In recent years, the sculptures of Antony Gormley, Rachel Whiteread and Anish Kapoor - all three Turner winners - have been less controversial but just as divisive in the public arena.

This year's jury included Patricia Bickers, editor of Arts Monthly, Susan Ferleger Brades, director of the Hayward Gallery, Michael Archer, writer and arts critic, Greville Worthington, representative of the Patrons of New Art, and Nicholas Serota.

The show, at Tate Britain, runs until 20 January 2002.

The BBC's Razia Iqbal
"Amidst what seemed to be whole-hearted support there was some boo-ing"
Tate Britain's Simon Wilson
"Turner prize winners are often at a crucial stage in their careers"
David Thorpe, curator of the Henry Moore Foundation
"It is unusual in that it is a very ephemeral thing"
See also:

03 Apr 01 | Arts
Tate leads museum boom
02 Apr 01 | Arts
Tate team wins major award
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