Michael Craig-Martin: Turning Pages
Turner Contemporary's only permanent artwork, situated in the ground floor Sunley Gallery, memorialises the artist’s first public commission, for Margate Library in 1975.
Turning Pages is a neon artwork by Sir Michael Craig-Martin, specially created for the opening of Turner Contemporary in 2011. The original version was displayed for many years on the façade of Margate Library. It was commissioned in 1975 by the Arts Council to mark the retirement of a long-serving librarian. Representing an open book whose intermittently flashing pages appear to turn, Turning Pages was Craig-Martin’s first public commission in the UK.
Throughout his career, Craig-Martin has worked in a variety of media from wall drawing and painting to sculpture and installation. His work asks questions about the status of art – what makes something a work of art? – and explores the expressive potential of everyday objects. One of his best-known artworks is the conceptual sculpture An Oak Tree (1973), in which a glass of water on a shelf is accompanied by a text in which the artist claims to have changed the glass of water into the oak tree of the work’s title. In more recent years, Craig-Martin has become known for his large-scale wall drawings of familiar household objects rendered in outline, appearing to float against brightly-coloured backgrounds.
A teacher at Goldsmiths’ College, London, from the 1970s to the 90s Craig-Martin is considered an influential figure in the emergence of the Young British Artists in the 1990s. His former students include Damien Hirst, Gary Hume and Sarah Lucas.