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Assemble collective wins Turner Prize for transforming Liverpool estate

Published 08/12/2015

Granby Four Streets 2014 - Greenhouse view view by Assemble, which has won the 31st Turner Prize (Tate Britain)
Granby Four Streets 2014 - Greenhouse view view by Assemble, which has won the 31st Turner Prize (Tate Britain)
31st Turner Prize winner Assemble collect their award at the Tramway arts venue in Glasgow.

A collective which clinched the prestigious Turner Prize has described its winning work as ambitious, socially engaged, politically relevant art with a purpose.

Assemble - a collective of about 16 artists, architects and designers aged under 30 - won the £25,000 award for its work Granby Four Streets, that helped locals on the Toxteth estate transform their neighbourhood.

The London-based group was invited to help revive a patch of the south Liverpool neighbourhood "from the ground up" by residents fighting plans to demolish a number of houses in the area.

The group received the 31st Turner Prize at the Tramway arts venue in Glasgow alongside members of the Granby community.

Assemble collective artist Lewis Jones said winning the Turner Prize was "surreal".

Standing in the Tramway showroom of the first range of products from the Granby Workshop, Mr Jones told the Press Association: "We used the nomination to start up a new social enterprise, the Granby Workshop, based in Liverpool and employing local people to make products.

"All of the funds from that go back into that neighbourhood and continue the rebuilding of it after years of dereliction.

"We make tiles, doorknobs, fireplaces, all sorts of domestic products that are all handmade so each one is different and they really show an investment of time and care."

There are plans to sell a number of pieces including fire places, tables and chairs displayed as part of the exhibition to help fund the continuing project.

Mr Jones added: "We tried to use the nomination as a platform, and hopefully we can do the same again with the award and continue to develop ambitious, socially engaged, politically relevant work.

"We worked for a number of years in Dalmarnock in the east end of Glasgow helping to set up the Baltic Street Adventure Playground - a child-led space which provides a place for children to play in a very free and unencumbered way.

"I hope that this award and the nomination before it helps give recognition and value to different ways of creating places in our cities and around our homes.

"If there's a benefit from this for Glasgow, for Liverpool and lots of other places then that is really fantastic."

It was the first time the often controversial contest, won last year by Duncan Campbell for his series of films called It For Others, has been held in Scotland.

Previous winners have included Martin Creed's light going on and off and Grayson Perry's pots tackling subjects like death and child abuse.

Lewis said the Granby Workshop is art, but it is also a social project that is improving lives.

"These labels don't replace other meanings," he said.

"It's great that the value of the creative process that has happened in Granby can be recognised at this level. That's fantastic.

"For some people it is art, but also through that project houses have been provided and products made and there's other things that have happened alongside that."

Assemble beat three female nominees; Bonnie Camplin, Janice Kerbel and Nicole Wermers, who each walked away with a £5,000 consolation prize from the close-run competition.

British artist and lecturer Camplin created an interactive work, The Military Industrial Complex, that featured large TVs, books and a photocopier. Visitors were encouraged to make copies of books and explore themes of virtual reality, conspiracy and state control.

Doug, a musical piece by London-based Canadian artist Kerbel, was nominated alongside German sculptor Wermers, whose installation Infrastruktur comprised a series of chairs with fur coats sewn on top.

Lewis said: "It's really good that they all had the breadth of practice that exists in lots of creative fields, the fact that you have got opera, installation, archive, and whatever it is people think that we did."

This year's winner was announced by artist and musician Kim Gordon during a ceremony broadcast live on Channel 4.

The founding member of US band Sonic Youth stumbled over her speech several times as she praised the short listed nominees, as well as mistakenly referring to the winners as Assembly.

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