Turner Prize contender Paul Noble tells David Whetstone about his art and his Tyneside upbringing.
THIS evening an artist whose visual awareness was sharpened by the sunrises over Whitley Bay will find out if he has won the Turner Prize.
Paul Noble is on the shortlist of four with Luke Fowler, Elizabeth Price and the splendidly named Spartacus Chetwynd.
Coming the year after Gateshead’s Baltic hosted the event, it will be another feather in the region’s cap if Paul wins – or, indeed, if the £25,000 prize goes to Elizabeth Price who makes the list on account of her exhibition at Baltic earlier in the year.
Paul has been shortlisted for an exhibition in London called Welcome to Nobson. It featured large and intricate drawings of his imaginary Nobson Newtown.
In keeping with the headline-grabbing history of the Turner Prize, the drawings are peopled by Paul’s soft-contoured, poo-like creations.
Let’s get the poo over and done with first while acknowledging that it is a fact of life whether you’re in country or town.
“In many ways it’s quite straightforward,” explains Paul.
“We’re humans – animals – but we’re generally in denial of our animal status... I think it’s because I spend a lot of time on my allotment.
“It’s about composting and nurturing. We take things from the environment around us and we leave behind our waste. Walt Whitman wrote a beautiful poem about compost.
“They’re more than just poo. My mum says, ‘Why are you doing work with poo?’ But they’re depictions of anthropomorphised shapes that always collect in waste. It’s not like a dirty protest by Bobby Sands.”