Turner Prize 2016: Michael Dean

Michael Dean starts his work with writing - which he then gives physical form. He creates moulds and casts of his words, abstracting and distorting them into an alphabet of human-scale shapes, using materials that are instantly recognisable from everyday life such as concrete, steel, soil, sand and corrugated sheet metal.

Dean’s sculptures aren’t intended to be read as recognisable words, but he does want us to see an element of language in their forms – to be able to imagine a word or idea. Parts of his sculptures often resemble the human body: tongues, limbs, eyes, and casts of his family’s fists appear among the forms – directly referring to our bodies as we move through the gallery and around his works.

The work (United Kingdom poverty line for two adults and two children: twenty thousand four hundred and thirty six pounds sterling as published on 1st September 2016) consists of £20,436 in pennies. This is the amount of money the government states is the minimum that two adults and two children need to survive for a year in the UK. When installing the work, Dean removed one coin, meaning that now the money you see before you is one penny less than the poverty line.

Michael Dean was born in 1977 in Newcastle upon Tyne. He lives and works in London.