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So you think Trump and Brexit are divisive subjects? Try reading the comments board of the Turner Prize!

While it may feel like discussion over Brexit and Trump have been going on forever, the UK’s most famous (or infamous) art prize is an old hand at peddling controversy and polarising opinion.

I have my own history with The Turner prize and it seems to have serendipitously played a role in some of the more significant moments in my life…

1997 – Cornelia Parker & GCSE’s

My first taste of the Turner Prize was in 1997, the year that I decided to pursue a career in Art and Design. It was my GCSEs that year and we visited the Tate on an art class trip. Seeing Cornelia Parker’s ‘Old Dark Matter: An Exploded View‘ literally and metaphorically blew my mind.

2000 – Wolfgang Tillmans Sparks a Small, Introverted Revolution

My next significant and most revolutionary encounter with the prize would be in 2000. It was the year I enrolled on a HND Photography Course at Reading Art College. I found Glenn Brown’s painting awe-inspiring and Tomoko Takahashi’s themes of "chaos and order" not only appealing but alarmingly familiar! However, the 2000 Turner Prize winner would change my life.

Experiencing photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’ work in that gallery space stopped me dead in my tracks, and I don’t think I have ever quite recovered from it. It challenged me; and sparked a journey that continues today. A journey of exploring and examining the medium of photography, challenging the boundaries between photography’s perceived “genres” and questioning its role in my life as well as the wider world.

2003 – Entering the World of the Chapman Brothers

2003 was the year I graduated with a BA (hons) in Photography and Digital Imaging. While the headlines surrounding the Prize were dominated by Jake and Dinos Chapman’s bronze casts of two sex dolls lying together, it was their re-creations of the Goya etchings that really fixated my attention. I remember finding it a particularly inspiring year, which included Willie Doherty’s captivating video installation Re-Run and Grayson Perry’s fascinating and engaging ceramics, for which he was awarded the prize.

2010 – This is the One

Skip to 2010. It’s another Turner Prize visit, I’d been to most of the prize shows between 2003 and now but this one is different. This time I’m nervously excited and as I walk up the steps to Tate Britain, I have to question the wisdom in arranging a first date at a show famed for it’s divisive and polarising nature. Although I struggle to remember the artworks exhibited, it was my most memorable visit… My first date with a remarkable woman who would go on to become the love of my life and future Mrs B.

2016 – Photo Walk Through the Turner Prize… With a 2 Year Old

Now fast forward to 2016. For the first time in the prize’s history, members of the public are not only allowed but actively encouraged to take photos of the exhibition. This is a call to arms I cannot resist. But why just bring a camera? Why not bring my two year old boy too?

Well there’s actually a ton of very valid reasons why you wouldn’t let a two year old loose in a space full of highly valued and collectable art works. But when you’re a young parent who feels older than they should, you’ve got to grab your excitement where you can! So we three headed back to where it all began.

Our little boy loved Prize Winner Helen Marten’s exhibits and it was here he spent most of his time. While everyone else appeared preoccupied with Anthea Hamilton’s ‘Project for Door’ (the one with the bum), this particular two year old was rather nonchalant about it. What stole the show for him though was Josephine Pryde’s large model train and it was at this point our already over-excited child reached sensory overload and had to be forcibly removed from the exhibition (by parents).

Before evacuating, I did manage to quickly squeeze through Michael Dean’s installation which I found to be the most engaging of all the exhibits. It was a room where you had no choice but to consider and question what the artist and artworks were doing and saying. Even the layout of the exhibit forced you to think about your own positioning and relationship with the surrounding works. I found it thought provoking, challenging and by far my favourite room.

Of course the collective highlight was heading down to the cafe afterwards, where you could buy cakes that nearly cost as much as the art!