Fifteen years on, we filmed Davey as he installed his sculptures for the Turner Prize Retrospective at Tate Britain, and asked him how winning the prize had affected him.
Grenville Davey: I am putting up, installing, two pieces for the Turner Prize exhibition. I am here with the Curator and the Art Handlers to basically just oversee the installation. One piece hasn’t been shown at the Tate before so, it’s a line drawing in steel so I have to place each piece in relation to the other. Down about six inches. Do you want me to put a mark on it? Yes please. 45 degrees slightly going to me. That’s that corner yeah. I won’t make working drawings before I start making, I make directly with material so there’s always something thrown up out of this business, the day to day business of working in a studio, so it could be making steel, making kind of fairly lightweight steel work is just like using paper and a glue gun and a pair of scissors but on a bigger scale so you can put something together very quickly and take it apart. I usually work on four or five things at once, so if I get stuck and have to kind of work my way out of a problem I go to something else or go to an engineer or supplier or find something that grabs my attention, go and see some art, you know, that’s how I start. The work has quite strong relationships with some things that you might see in the world and it’s a celebration of those daily or almost sometimes mundane things that you might come across, you know, if you kind of double take quite often. The table piece is a direct relationship to a period in my life where I worked at the same spot for five years and got to know and negotiate the same area of workstation very well. I think that’s a common thing in human life these days is you know the territory very intimately so a key to understanding the work is that. The body of the table piece is painted and it’s got a salted top which is essentially me laying on about a quarter of an inch of salt water and then allowing the water to evaporate just leaving the salt to describe the level. The Turner Prize of ’92 it seems like a long time ago, it’s always ever present. I enjoyed it immensely, the whole thing, it got very, very noisy but I had a great show at Chisenhale Gallery at London around the same time and the work was going very well so it came at a high point. From an artist’s perspective, I didn’t see it as a competition. I don’t think anybody in the group, certainly a group of artists in that time, the short list of artists didn’t see it as a competition, publicly at least, and I think you either do it or you don’t so I thought it was a celebration of something and I think it brings contemporary art really into a very sharp focus which can’t be a bad thing.