Turner Prize 2016: Helen Marten

Helen Marten uses sculpture, screen printing and her own writing to produce installations that are full of references, from the contemporary to the historical, and the everyday to the enigmatic. For the Turner Prize she brings together a range of handmade and found objects drawn from daily life and more unusual sources (including cotton buds, coins, shoe soles, limes, marbles, eggs, snooker chalk and snakeskin). Her collage-like gatherings of objects and images have a playful intent, creating poetic visual puzzles that seem to invite us into a game or riddle. 

Marten’s exhibition space is divided into three sections. Each suggests a workstation or terminal where some unknown human activity has been interrupted. When we encounter her installations, it is as if Marten asks us to become archaeologists of our own times, and to consider familiar items as if we are seeing them for the first time. In the process, these objects may become strange and abstract - ‘husked down’, Marten says, ‘to geometric memories of themselves’, that can be remodelled to give rise to new and unexpected stories or ideas.

Marten encourages us to look very closely at the items she makes and the materials she uses, and to reconsider the images and objects we surround ourselves with in the modern world.

Helen Marten was born in 1985 in Macclesfield. She lives and works in London.