The histry man
He sees the city from the vantage point of his skateboard and has wowed the art world with his knowledge of the past. That’s why Glasgow’s TOBY PATERSON is one of our most talked about artists. Words: Sarah Lowndes
unlikely that he didn’t even invite his parents to the London ceremony. But win he
did, the second Scot in three years to pick up the £24,000 prize, fuelling a ﬂurry of local art coverage not seen since Douglas Gordon’s and Christine Borland’s back-to-back Turner nominations in 1996 and 1997. Taken aback, the Glasgow-based 28-year-old was left dazed and bewildered at the post-awards party as luminaries including Bjork and Brian Eno offered their congratulations.
For some commentators though, there were historical parallels at work that gave Paterson’s entry a clear winning edge. ICA director Philip Dodd exclaimed: ‘I am delighted that the prize has gone to an artist with a sense of history, since everyone keeps telling me that young British artists are amnesiacs and I don’t think they are.’
Paterson would not deny his interest in history. After all, he once named a piece of work after lyrics taken from a Disco Inferno song: ‘lt’s not the Future but the Past that Will Get Us’. ‘Events can have parallels,’ he says. ‘That’s quite a romanticised view of destiny, that everything affects everything else, but one that appeals to me.’
His paintings and sculptures respond to the work of modernist architects and designers in the years that followed World War 11. His prize winning exhibit at the ICA was typical in this respect, and featured works that drew upon the work of Soviet emigre architect Berthold Lubetkin and Denys Lasdun, architect of London’s National Theatre.
His wall painting, We Fall into Patterns Quickly, was based on the decorative facade of Lubetkin’s Hallﬁeld Estate at Paddington. ‘Nothing really remains of the ideas surrounding that period except the architecture,’ says Paterson, pointing out that some of Lubetkin’s contemporaries viewed his use of balconies to create a rhythmic design as a betrayal of the
T oby Paterson thought his chances of winning the Beck’s Futures Prize were so
Below: Sunlit Emergency Exit (2002) invokes Swiss steirwells; top to bottom: Apollo (detail 2001), Arabesque (2002), Apollo (2001) and We Fall in Patterns too Quickly (2002), inspired by a picture of Denys Lesdun’s ofﬁce