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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 09:16 GMT
Turner winner's art prize poser
By Razia Iqbal
BBC News arts correspondent

Simon Starling, whose Turner Prize victory was cheered by the audience at Monday's ceremony, is the kind of artist the public would readily associate with the annual award.

His work is conceptual and embodies what has become a problem for the Turner. Those inside the art world love and rate it, while those outside it love to pour scorn and derision upon it.

And because the main work in Starling's installation is a shed, a rather decrepit, old shed, the question that will be heard loud and clear for a few days to come is likely to be: Can a shed be art?

Starling has described Shedboatshed as something that might highlight the pressures of modern life.

It is a shed he saw on the bank of a river. The oar on the side gave him the idea of dismantling it to make it into a boat, which he paddled up the River Rhine. Once that had been achieved, he dismantled it and re-built it into a shed again.

Simon Starling with Shedboatshed
The public have actually responded very well - I even got a poem from a woman about a shed
Simon Starling
Starling said much of his work was concerned with the idea of "retarding the pace of modern life".


But he disputed claims it was the kind of work which would provoke derision from the general public, saying: "It is really the media who stir the pot. The public have actually responded very well. I even got a poem from a woman about a shed."

Art critics love to remind people that what J M W Turner did in his day was radical, and now he has the country's most prestigious contemporary art prize named after him.

But others have described this year's shortlist as "stultifyingly boring".

One critic said he really did not think any on the shortlist deserved to win, but that Darren Almond presented the most heartfelt work.

It is only since the Turner Prize has been televised that it has started to command the column inches it does.

That interest has, of course, coincided with the emergence of those artists now inextricably linked with the Turner, such as Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread, and Tracey Emin, although the latter did not win the prize.

This year's ceremony was full of the art world's celebrities, but otherwise was a somewhat smaller and subdued affair than previous years.

The big noise will no doubt come when headlines screech that these arty types are just having a laugh, no way can a shed be art.


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