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Turner Prize: A genuine jewel in Derry's culture city crown

By Terry Blain

A dead shark in formaldehyde, a dirty, unmade bed, and blobs of elephant dung. Just three of the 'exhibits' submitted over the 29-year history of the Turner Prize, the annual competition from Tate Britain to find the cream of British-based visual artists under the age of 50.

This year the shortlist exhibition comes to Londonderry for the UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations, at Ebrington.

In the grand tradition of the Turner Prize, they are nothing if not thought-provoking. David Shrigley's Life Model is a sculpted naked man of simian demeanour, shorn of body hair, looking skyward and occasionally blinking.

At his feet is a galvanised bucket, into which he intermittently relieves himself.

Dozens of drawings and sketches on the walls, by groups of children and adults who have already viewed Life Model, signal its collaborative nature. Some of them are amusing, many strikingly impressive.

In a second, softly lit room, six largely naturalistic paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye make a dramatic impression, whites of eyes and teeth launching shafts of gleaming light from burnished backdrops.

In a long, white-walled gallery on the first floor nothing seems to be happening initially, until a team of black-shirted assistants initiate conversations involving the spectators as part of Tino Sehgal's conceptual piece This Is Exchange, an examination of how market-based principles apply in relationships.

Laure Prouvost's mixed media installation Wantee is a wryly observed amalgam of fact and fiction, reality and illusion, with a starring role for teapots.

Who'll win? That'll be clear when Channel 4 broadcasts the judges' verdict live from Ebrington on December 2. Meanwhile, join the debate by visiting this uniquely stimulating exhibition, a genuine jewel in the crown of the City of Culture.

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