Cheeky Turner Prize 2016 proves a trail of temptation for families

Promising to be the most inclusive show in its history and inviting reaction from every corner of the visiting public, Turner Prize 2016 opened today, returning to Tate Britain after two years away. This incredible tale of visual seduction might be a fantastic feast for the eyes, but be warned visitors with young children! You’ll need to beg for their very best behaviour as this trail of temptation is dangerously at risk of inviting a little more ‘feedback’ than they probably want.

Yikes, sounds tricky. So is it worth taking the little ones? With this briefing – absolutely yes.

What’s it all about? 

Established in 1984, Turner Prize is awarded annually to a young, emerging artist in recognition of them producing an outstanding exhibition or body of work within the last year. Past winners include Grayson Perry, Anish Kapoor and Gilbert and George.

Who is there to see?

The beauty of the exhibition is that it is vast and varied, encompassing a range of media, styles and stories.
This year’s shortlist features:

Helen Marten
Busy parents and carers will definitely identify with this Macclesfield-born artist whose work represents three aspects of daily life, drawing attention to its pace and encouraging us all to slow down. Using everyday objects, either handmade or found in unusual surroundings, she leaves us in a visual riddle as to what has occurred. Lunar Nibs 2015 in particular appeared like most jobs in my life – unfinished and interrupted.

⭐ Family highlight: Helen’s installations contain loads of curious playful items that I would liken to a beach combing walk along the Thames Path. This work is great for a game of ‘I Spy’ or for picking and ticking off items that you see.

Anthea Hamilton
This Londoner’s ‘pop art’ style is all about giving an ‘experience’ to the visitor, resulting in an amusing, bold and hugely accessible collection of murals, sculptures and installations, all of which are anchored in real life.

⭐ Family highlight: The ‘butt’ or Project for a Door (After Gaetano Pesce) is a guaranteed giggle but surely is now more photographed than Kim Kardashian’s? Of course don’t miss it (you can’t) but something really wow is her hanging ‘pants’ or Chastity Belt installation, based on medieval locks of the same style and set in ‘the London sky at 3pm on a sunny day in June’.

Josephine Pryde
Questions, questions, questions. Sound familiar? Pryde is famed for posing a range of questions about her own interactions with the art world. Favouring photography and sculpture, her New Media Express train might have drawn the most attention when she was originally shortlisted, but her cameraless photographic technique as featured here alongside it are particularly fascinating.

⭐ Family highlight: Although ‘Baby Wants To Ride’ is a shadow of its former moving self, it is still lovely to look at. It might, however, prove too tempting (or disappointing) for some younger viewers.

Michael Dean
Exhibiting a strong social and moral compass, Dean deliberately utilises recognisable and ‘democratic’ materials from the urban landscape and sculpts them into words, or into forms that often resemble human bodies. Although quite often the words can’t be read, the sculptures force us to think about our own interaction with the world.

⭐ Family highlight: Dean has extended the temptation further with £20,436 arranged on the floor in a giant collection of gleaming (and grubby) 1p pieces. It’s a powerful way to represent the poverty line for two adults and two children. Tip: from the viewing point at this dead-end, hold hands and carefully navigate your way back around the ‘fenced’ entrance through the recurring ‘family of four’ sculptures that represent your solemn peers. Easy to get in huh? Impossible to get out – perhaps what the artist intended? These pennies, however, are not for pinching (you’ve been told).

Other highlights

⭐ Tuesdays! Putting its money where its mouth is in a desire to cast the Turner Prize net wider, for the first time ever, Tate has made every Tuesday ‘Pay What You Can’. Perfect for those put off by high ticket prices, which can be money down the drain if you’re visiting with children and you have to bail.

⭐ Comments wall: No visit to the Turner Prize would be complete without a read of the comments wall at the end, before adding your very own.

What’s also great about this year’s show is that (if the kids behave) you can enjoy every last drop. Whereas in past shows you might have had to race past any dark, violent or sexually explicit material, this year’s exhibition contains no such content. Outside of Michael Dean’s very moving presentation, the remainder of the show is surprising, colourful and even a bit of a giggle. So, with filming, photography and even Facebook Live being welcome to gauge reactions inside, the message to go forth and explore this year’s shortlist is coming through loud and noisy. Hooray.


Turner Prize is on at Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG until 2nd January 2017
Daily 10am-6pm, Admission £12 Adults, Children 12-18 £9.50, concessions available
The winner will be announced on 5th December
Visit website for more information