Jamie Andrews - 10,000 MenalTURNERtive TURNER Prize 07

Presented by Merseyside Stop The War Coalition
ViewTwo Gallery, Mathew Street (29th November – 22nd December 2007, Thu-Sat 12pm-4pm)

Reviewed by Alison Cornmell

Nearly two months ago I walked through a lazy rainy Sunday to go to the Turner Prize exhibition with high expectations. I went into the Tate not letting the rain dampen my spirit but I left and the rain became a mirror of my mood. I had just spent an hour of my life that I was never getting back looking at art that simply existed with no real purpose.

Yesterday the rain fell even harder, and my spirit was more piss-wet-through than dampened. I clambered up the two flights of stairs to the gallery entrance my Christmas shopping crashing into my legs. It was safe to say that I was not in the mood to review another exhibition.

The gallery was a strange hybrid of gallery/café/ghost town (with me being the only visitor). And the relatively small room’s walls were literally filled with artwork. I immediately loved the space. The pieces were so close together that there was a real feeling of camaraderie between the pieces which exactly mirrors the tone of the collection. The Merseyside Stop the War Coalition has presented the artworks with the themes of ‘Peace, War and Occupation’.

‘Lego Fusto - Ghosts of Abu Ghraib’ uses Lego to create a 3D prison block. Each of the eight sections contains hooded Lego men being beaten or tortured by baseball cap wearing, smiling Lego men. The figures being tortured are complete with fearful faces and sweating brows. This piece in some twisted way made me smile, as it literally toyed with my emotions.

Peter Offord’s piece was also dynamic and thought-provoking. The model of a contorted skull with the remnants of a fleshy eye in one of the sockets silently screams at you with only his fighter pilot headphones. Underneath is the title ‘Mission Accomplished’. This piece highlights the paradoxes of war, an arena that sees success in fatality and glory in death.

The winner of the alTURNERtive prize was Jamie Andrews’ ‘10,000 Men’, a blood red model made of 10,000 toy soldiers. His piece takes the children’s playground song ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ and turns it on its head, making it a protest piece of art.

What I loved about the exhibition was that the passion that had gone into these pieces was almost tangible in the gallery. Every artist is obviously outraged and saddened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and by war generally. This reaction can be seen in their pieces. They pull no punches and are prepared to express their feelings by any means necessary. And so they evoked a myriad of different responses from me, whether they are appropriate or not.

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