Human Space, Mental Territory….

Martin Boyce: His Art and His Acceptance Speech. By Sian Gray.

Martin Boyce was, last week, awarded the infamous Turner Prize for his piece Do Words Have Voices? Most images show Boyce standing next to the Modernist inspired desk that he created, but this winning installation is, in fact, an entire room in size.

As well as the desk, there are ‘trees’ that support the gallery ceilings. They’re covered in aluminium leaves and cast light patterns over the room’s surfaces. Littered across the floor are more leaves, geometric in shape and made of paper. The silent, angular form is mirrored by the shape of a park bin, also part of the collection.

It all harks back to the Modernists and, in particular, to the French Modernist Designer Jean Prouve whose design for a library table is reflected in Boyce’s work.

The room is a beautiful, poetic space. Adrian Searle described it as ‘an elegy to modernist purity…a human space and a mental territory‘. There is a strong sense of mental return in the room. Spectators are encouraged to spend time learning about it and exploring the piece. The desk anchors the art in education, which Boyce furthered in his brief but poignant acceptance speech:

‘When education is going through the wringer, it is important to acknowledge the value of teachers’


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