London's Turner Prize Goes To Sound Installation : The Record Susan Philipsz's recording of her own voice singing a Scottish ballad won the prize this year.
NPR logo

London's Turner Prize Goes To Sound Installation

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131881367/131884434" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
London's Turner Prize Goes To Sound Installation

London's Turner Prize Goes To Sound Installation

London's Turner Prize Goes To Sound Installation

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131881367/131884434" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

This year's winner of Britain's big contemporary art award the Turner Prize is nothing to look at. It's a sound installation made by the artist Susan Philipsz. She won the prize — and $40,000 — for her rendition of a Scottish lament. The piece is called "Lowlands Away."

In Philipsz' installation the haunting song echoed from beneath three bridges in Glasgow, Scotland. The song speaks of a lover who drowned, then returns (all dressed in white) to her sweetheart.

Hear Susan Philpsz's "Lowlands."

Audio will be available later today.

The Turner Prize is awarded each year to a British artist under fifty — Philipsz is 45. She was born in Glasgow, and she comes from a background in sculpture. At last night's awards ceremony she said she doesn't think of herself as a sound artist.

“I work with sound in a kind of sculptural way," she says. "I almost see it as a sound sculpture, if you like. I think it was really interesting to have 'Lowlands' under the bridges over the Clyde [the river in Glasgow] with the sound of the trains trundling overhead and the sound of the water. It was all part of the experience."

This is the first time a sound installation has won the prize.