Martin Boyce

27th January 2012 at 00:00
One art teacher saw the potential in this future Turner Prize winner and never let him get lazy with his work

I was probably in fourth year when I became increasingly aware of art, especially pop art, and the more sophisticated visual communication which, primarily, for me was on record sleeves and magazines.

I started doing my own versions of these things, and this idea of using graphics and language and images was directed by my art teacher, Anne Crammond.

We had a couple of art teachers who were maybe there for a year and then left, but I remember Miss Crammond because she really took an interest in what I was doing. I think she began to see the potential in me, because she would bring in books from her personal collection to show me.

I particularly remember a book of Vivienne Westwood punk and post-punk fashion, and her saying, "You know, I need to watch what I show you, because art books aren't censored in the way other books are."

There were some pictures of scantily-dressed people, but it was punk, so the images were hard. It wasn't glamorous. I think that book also sticks in my mind because I said to her, "My sister's got a Vivienne Westwood dress." I meant Laura Ashley. I wasn't very up on my fashion.

Showing me her books was something that was beyond teaching to the class. That feeling of being taken aside and treated slightly differently, as if you are more mature, made me feel that someone recognised that what I was doing was something worthwhile.

At that age there was also that element of trying to impress, trying to get someone to say that what you are doing is really interesting, and she really responded.

I remember a lot of things I was doing were very flat at that time and she introduced the idea of cutting out elements and layering them, putting different images on top of each other.

When I was getting a bit lazy, surfing on what I thought was my talent, she would let me know! She would say, that's all very well, it's maybe a little bit like such and such an artist, but I want to see your eye. She did not let me get away with anything!

We met after I represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale 2009, because she saw my show when it went to Dundee and got in touch. It was really nice to see her. We had coffee at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. I, of course, had changed from a spotty 14-year-old into a 40-something, but she hadn't really changed. She always looked kind of creative, more glammy. I remember her eyes were always made up. We talked about how for some reason the art classes were in this pre-fab shed, away from the main art department.

When I was still at school, we began to talk about me going to art school, what it would be like and what might happen. I never for a moment thought that I would be an art teacher or work in an office - I always wanted to be an artist, or a photographer, or a fashion designer. I wanted to be out on my own doing it and at that level.

I think I was always quite driven to get there, although my parents and other people actually questioned whether I should do teacher training because that was always something to fall back on. I never thought that would be for me. I wanted to be in the thick of it and just persevered.

When I won the Turner Prize, Miss Crammond emailed to congratulate me.

In my speech, when I made a comment about how important teachers are, I was thinking about a number of people. My wife is a teacher and my teachers at Glasgow School of Art, David Harding and Sam Ainsley, were both influential. But I was also thinking about Miss Crammond.

Martin Boyce was talking to Julia Horton.


Born: Hamilton, 1967

Education: St Anne's and St Elizabeth's primaries, and Holy Cross High, Hamilton; Glasgow School of Art

Career: Artist, winning the Turner Prize in 2011 at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

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