Music Articles

London's Turner Prize Goes To Sound Installation

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" 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.

Audio is not available

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.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor