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Hill Street Muse

IT'S been celebrated as the most important city in the UK art world for its astonishing run of Turner Prize winners.

However, The Herald can reveal four of the six Scots who have won the prestigious prize in the past 15 years share something more than just hailing from Glasgow – they have all lived in the same road.

Hill Street, in the Garnethill area, has been home to Douglas Gordon, Richard Wright, Simon Starling and this year's Turner winner, the sculptor Martin Boyce.

All lived in the street for a key period of the 1990s and early 2000s, forging friendships and relationships which many observers say is key to the overwhelming success of the close-knit Glasgow art scene.

The epicentre of the cultural life in Hill Street was No 83, where both Douglas Gordon, who was the first Scot to win the prize in 1996, lived as well as Katrina Brown, the curator who now runs The Common Guild arts organisation, and who was a judge for the Turner Prize this year.

Ms Brown moved out of the flat to live in the south side of the city with now-husband Nathan Coley, the artist and sculptor who himself was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 2007.

The flat at No 83 was then lived in by Richard Wright, the painter who won in 2009 and his wife, Sarah Lowndes, a writer and academic at Glasgow School of Art who has written one of the key books on the success of Glasgow art, Social Sculpture: The Rise of the Glasgow Art Scene.

Nearby, in the early 2000s, lived Martin Boyce and his now-wife Sheelagh, at No 95, while the artists Simon Starling – who won the prize in 2005 – and Ross Sinclair also lived in the street in the 1990s.

Many other art talents have also lived in Hill Street including Roderick Buchanan, who won the Beck's Futures prize in 2000, and Christine Borland, who was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1997. In 1997, there was an exhibition at 83 Hill Street called Wish You Were Here Too which now looks like a Who's Who of the contemporary art scene – there was work by Boyce, Coley, Wright, Gordon and Borland, curated by Charles Esche.

The remarkable confluence of talent and geography in Hill Street has now become almost a legend in art circles – on the night Boyce won the Turner Prize this year, Douglas Gordon joked to Ms Lowndes that people should "forget Glasgow as the centre of the art world – what about Hill Street?"

Ms Lowndes added: "We lived at 83 Hill Street between 2000 and 2004, it was a very special place to live, in close proximity to Glasgow School of Art and with several friends living close by.

"The flat, which we had bought from our good friend, Douglas Gordon, had a pencil wall drawing by Lawrence Weiner in the kitchen which said, in a foreign language: Art Belongs To Everyone."

This week Boyce reminisced about his time living in Hill Street and the unusual mixture of close geography and highly creative young artists, forging supportive relationships just as their individual careers were beginning to take off.

"I lived above or below Douglas [Gordon] in Hill Street when he was at the Slade [School of Fine Art in London] and he was coming and going, and then when Sheelagh bought a flat in Hill Street I moved in with her," he said.

"We were just in and out of each other's flats all the time. It was an amazing period really, looking back – I remember only one flat had a phone, so the phone would ring and people would be shouting out of the window for someone else.

"I cannot remember cooking in all the time I lived there; someone always had a pot of soup on the go. You would come home from a night out, see a light on, and pop in to someone's flat to see what was happening."

He added: "There is a story, and it may not be true, that once that phone rang and someone shouting out of the window – 'Douglas, that's Jay Jopling [leading art dealer and gallery owner] on the phone'. It sounds like an urban myth, but there is an element of truth to it.

"It was a period when everyone was working, and beginning to travel to do shows and they would come back from their travels and have stories, and also foreign artists were coming to the city so it was a very exciting period."

Boyce added: "When you think of it – Richard and Douglas and myself and Simon – all living there at the same time, it is pretty incredible to think what has happened since."

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