Martin Creed is an English conceptual artist born in 1968. Born in Wakefield and brought up in Glasgow Creed studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1986 to 1990.

Since 1987, Creed has numbered each of his works, with most titles taking a direct link to the materials used.  Work No. 340 A Sheet of Paper folded up and Unfolded, 2004 is exactly that.

One of Creeds best known works is the installation, Work No. 227, The Lights Going on and Off.

Nothing is added to the space and nothing is taken away, but at intervals of five seconds the gallery is filled with light and then subsequently thrown into darkness. Creed explores the mechanics of the everyday, and in manipulating the gallery’s existing light fittings he creates a new and surprising effect.

This piece challenges the traditional methods of museum display and the encounter one would normally expect to have in a gallery. Disrupting the norm, allowing and then denying the lights their function, Creed plays with the viewer’s sense of space and time. Our negotiation of the gallery is impeded, yet we become more aware of our own visual sensitivity, the actuality of the space and our own actions within it.  Creed exposes rules, conventions and opportunities that are usually overlooked, and in so doing implicates and empowers the viewer.

The piece won Creed the Turner Prize in 2001, and as so often with the Turner Prize, the piece created an immense deal of media attention, a lot of it questioning whether something as minimalist as this could be considered art at all.

Like many conceptual artists before him, Creed employs text in his work, particularly his neon works.  In these pieces the titles are also numbered and indicate what the sign says.

In an interview Creed states that he creates art works not as part of an academic exploration of ‘conceptual art’ but rather from a wish to connect with people.  Therefore the work is primarily emotional:

“To me it’s emotional. Aye. To me that’s the starting point. I mean, I do it because I want to make something. I think that’s a desire, you know, or a need. I think that I recognize that I want to make something, and so I try to make something. But then you get to thinking about it and that’s where the problems start because you can’t help thinking about it, wondering whether it’s good or bad. But to me it’s emotional more than anything else”.

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