Tracey Emin on Turner Prize shock: It could never have happened in my day

Tracey Emin has welcomed the decision to award the Turner Prize to all shortlisted artists as a collective, saying: “It could never have happened in my day.”

The artists had written a joint letter to the jury saying they wanted to share the prize as a statement of “commonality, multiplicity and solidarity” at a time of “political crisis”.

They said their work was incompatible “with the competition format, whose tendency is to divide and individualise”.

Emin, who shocked with her unmade bed, surrounded by used condoms, underwear and vodka bottles when she was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999, said it was a good move.

“Good for them,” she told the PA news agency.

“It could never have happened in my day.

“An absolutely brilliant moment for Margate,” Emin – also famous for the tent Everyone I Have Ever Slept With – said of the town she grew up in.

The news was revealed live on TV at an event at Dreamland Margate amusement park in Kent.

Oscar Murillo, Tai Shani, Helen Cammock and Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Oscar Murillo, Tai Shani, Helen Cammock and Lawrence Abu Hamdan

In a surprise twist, Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Tai Shani took the accolade as a collective, the first time in the history of the once-controversial prize.

It came after Booker Prize judges split the prestigious literary award between Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.

The Turner Prize winners said: “After a number of discussions between us, we came to a collective decision that we, the four nominated artists, are all the winners of this, the 2019 Turner Prize.

“This year the jury have selected a group of artists who are all engaged in forms of social or participatory practice.

Turner Prize 2019
Turner Prize 2019

“We believe when grouped together such practices become incompatible with the competition format, whose tendency is to divide and individualise.

“Placing in contention the issues in our work would undermine our individual artistic efforts to show a world entangled.”

The four artists’ work has been on display at the Turner Contemporary gallery on Margate seafront since September 28.

Oscar Murillo’s papier mache figures are said to represent a mobile and globalised workforce, and the hay-stuffed models have links to a New Year’s Eve tradition in the 33-year-old’s homeland of Colombia.

Turner Prize 2019
Turner Prize 2019

Beirut-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, 34, is renowned for his work using sound effects to explore society as people perceive it.

His work features a powerful glimpse inside Saydanya, a prison in Syria where inmates suffered torture.

Helen Cammock, 49, looks at the role of women in the civil rights movement that began in Northern Ireland in 1968, including Derry.

Tai Shani’s DC:Semiramis feminist science fiction work depicts an alternative reality in which the 43-year-old explores dark and fantastical worlds.

The award in 1999, when Emin was nominated, went to Steve McQueen, now also an Oscar-winning filmmaker known for Hunger, Shame and 12 Years A Slave.