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."
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.