Martin Creed

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Martin Creed
Martin Creed by Maria Baranova 2015-3401.jpg
Born 1968
Wakefield, England
Education Slade School of Art at University College London
Awards Turner Prize (2001)

Martin Creed (born 1968) is a British artist and musician. He won the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: The lights going on and off. Creed lives and works in London.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Martin Creed was born in Wakefield, England. He moved with his family to Glasgow at age 3 when his silversmith father got a job teaching there.[2] He grew up revering art and music. His parents were Quakers, and he was taken often to Quaker meetings.[2] He attended Lenzie Academy school,[3] near Glasgow, and studied art at the Slade School of Art at University College London from 1986 to 1990.


Work No. 200: Half the air in a given space (1998)

Creed's work is often a small intervention in the world, making use of existing materials or situations rather than bringing new material into the world. He uses whatever medium seems suitable.[4] Since 1987, he has numbered each of his works, and most of his titles are descriptive. Work No. 79: some Blu-tack kneaded, rolled into a ball and depressed against a wall (1993), for example, is just what it sounds like, as is Work No. 88, a sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball (1994). One of Creed's best known works is Work No. 200: Half the air in a given space (1998), which is a room which has half of its cubic space filled with balloons.


Creed is perhaps best known for his submission for the 2001 Turner Prize show at the Tate Gallery, Work No. 227: The lights going on and off, which won that year's prize. The work presented was an empty room in which the lights switched on and off at 5 second intervals. As so often with the Turner Prize, this created a great deal of press attention, most of it questioning whether something as minimalist as this could be considered art at all.

Work No. 850 an athlete running through Tate Britain gallery

His work has often excited controversy: a visitor threw eggs at the walls of Creed's empty room as a protest against the prize, declaring that Creed's presentations were not real art and that "painting is in danger of becoming an extinct skill in this country".[5] Ironically, in recent years Creed has been exhibiting paintings in nearly every exhibition he has done.

For Creed there is no difference between making music and making art. Like his Work No. 850, in which runners ran through the Tate Gallery in 2008, his music is disarmingly simple but makes an immediate impact. Work No. 1197 "All the bells in the country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes" was commissioned to herald the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Work No. 1020 Ballet (2009)

In 2009, he wrote and choreographed Work No. 1020: Ballet, a live performance of Creed's own music, ballet, words and film, originally produced by Sadler's Wells, London and performed in the Lilian Baylis Studio. In 2010, Work No. 1020: Ballet was performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and at The Kitchen, New York, in December 2013. Work No. 1020 was most recently performed in 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in connection with Creed's major retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, London.

In 2011, Creed gave work to the UK-registered charity Environmental Justice Foundation (1088128). A run of 20 T-shirts was made featuring his Work No. 531, all of which were hand screen printed in London and individually numbered on the inside neck. They are available from the charity.[6]

Creed continues to exhibit work internationally and regularly gives talks and plays live with his band.

Permanent Installations[edit]

Work No. 1059 (2010) Scotsman Steps, Edinburgh, Scotland

Creed's Work No. 975 EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT, was installed on the facade of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in November 2009. Although Work No. 975 is a unique sculpture, the phrase has been used on a number of related works, each assigned its own work number. Previous to Work No. 975, a red neon text appeared in New York’s Times Square (Work No.225 1999, commissioned by Public Art Fund), a thirty-metre-long version was installed in Detroit (Work No.790 2007), and another text ran the length of the Rennie Collection’s façade in Vancouver’s Chinatown (Work No.851 2008). Most recently, a 46-metre multicoloured version was commissioned for Christchurch Art Gallery, in the advent of its reopening after almost five years of earthquake-related closure.

In 2011 Creed was commissioned by Fruitmarket Gallery to make a work as part of the restoration of the historic Scotsman Steps in Edinburgh. Creed's Work No. 1059 was subsequently installed, cladding each of the 104 steps and landings in a different type of marble. Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones called it "a generous, modest masterpiece of contemporary public art".[7]

In 2012 Creed was the first artist to participate in the long-term programme of artist-conceived restaurants at Sketch, London. The project saw Creed transforming the entire venue. Together with a series of paintings and wall drawings, Creed specifically created Work No. 1343 where every single piece of cutlery, glass, chair and table was different and brought together a mix of the mass-produced and hand-crafted, from classic antiques to contemporary design from all around the world. Work No. 1347, still on display at the restaurant, consists of 96 different types of marble, in a herringbone formation across the floor.


Creed's first band, Odawa, was formed in 1994 with Adam McEwen and Keiko Owada. In 1997, they released their first CD, "Nothing", on David Cunningham's Piano label. Sound has also featured in his gallery-based work, with pieces using doorbells, drum machines and metronomes. Since 1999 he has not used the band name "Owada". In 2000, he published a recording of his songs titled I Can't Move under his own name with the arts publisher Art Metropole, in Toronto.

In 2010, he provided the cover art for a Futuristic Retro Champions single, while supporting its launch with an appearance with his own band.

Creed started his own label, Telephone Records, and released the single "Thinking/ Not Thinking" in early 2011, following it up with the single "Where You Go" in 2012. Releases accelerated in 2012, with the Double AA Side single "Fuck Off" and "Die" coming out on Moshi Moshi Records in May 2012, in advance of the album "Love To You", released on Moshi Moshi in July 2012. The album is produced by David Cunningham, Martin Creed and The Nice NIce Boys (Andrew Knowles of Johnny Marr & The Healers and Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand). The Vinyl Factory worked with Creed to produce a limited edition of the release which featured hand-painted covers by Creed. The single "You're The One For Me" came out at the same time as the album.

January 2014 saw the release ‘Mind Trap’, an album that featured songs alongside instrumental pieces for orchestra. Martin sings and plays the instruments, supported by gospel singers Dee Alexander and Yvonne Gage (who have worked with The Police, Madonna and R.Kelly) and Andy Knowles (musical credits include stints with the Fiery Furnaces & Franz Ferdinand) playing drums on If You’re Lonely, You Return and Don’t Tell Me. Keiko Owada plays bass on Gift Attack / Don’t Won’t. Co-produced by Martin with Andy Knowles, the album was recorded in London, Chicago and the Czech Republic. Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand and Mark Ralph (who works with Hot Chip) provided additional production. The Chicago songs, which form the heart of the album, were recorded all-analogue at John McEntire's (Tortoise) Soma Studios. Engineered by Bill Skibbe (The Kills/Franz Ferdinand). It also includes 3 specially commissioned orchestral works: Work No. 955 was originally written for the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Work No. 994 was composed for the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra and Work No. 1375 was commissioned by the The London Sinfonietta. These pieces were recorded for the album by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mikel Toms. All lyrics and music on the album are written by Martin Creed, with the exception of the The New Shutters which is Martin’s arrangement of a traditional Neapolitan folk song. The album sleeve features one of Martin’s paintings, Work No. 1674: Anouchka and was designed by Andy Knowles, who has recently directed videos for Franz Ferdinand and The Cribs. Martin Creed is also much loved by Franz Ferdinand - regular attendees at his gigs and co-producers on his album 'Mind Trap' - as well as Moshi Moshi label-mates Slow Club.

A new body of audiovisual work was released in late November 2015 in response to the recent Syrian refugee crisis. The double A-side single Let Them In / Border Control was made available via Telephone Records as free downloads on Soundcloud. Both songs are accompanied by videos which Creed produced himself.


Princess Taxi Girl Single 2016 Digital Telephone Records
Thoughts Lined Up Album 2016 CD, Digital Telephone Records
Understanding Single 2016 Digital Telephone Records
Let Them In / Border Control Double A-Side Single 2015 Digital Telephone Records
Mind Trap Album 2014 CD, 12" Vinyl, Special Edition 12" Vinyl, Digital Telephone Records
Blow And Suck / I Want You Single 2013 Special Edition 12" Vinyl The Vinyl Factory
Chicago EP 2012 Special Edition 12" Vinyl Telephone Records / The Vinyl Factory / MCA Chicago
You're The One For Me Single 2012 Digital Moshi Moshi Records
Love To You Album 2012 CD, 12" Vinyl, Special Edition 12" Vinyl, Digital Moshi Moshi Records
Fuck Off / Die Double A-Side Single 2012 Digital Moshi Moshi Records
Where You Go Split Single 2012 CD & DVD, Special Edition 12" Vinyl, Digital Telephone Records
Thinking / Not Thinking Single 2011 CD & DVD, Digital Telephone Records
Thinking / Not Thinking / Words Single 2009 7" Vinyl In collaboration with Hiromi Yoshii, Japan
Work No. 815 Single 2008 7" Vinyl Smart Guy Records
I Can't Move EP 2000 CD Art Metropole, Canada
Nothing (Owada) Album 1997 CD Piano

On art[edit]

In an interview published in the book Art Now: Interviews with Modern Artists (2002), Creed explains that he used to 'make paintings' but never liked having to decide what to paint. He decided to stop making paintings and instead to think about what it meant, and why he wanted to make things. He says:

Creed says that he makes art works not as part of an academic exploration of 'conceptual' art, but rather from a wish to connect with people, 'wanting to communicate and wanting to say hello'. The work is therefore primarily emotional:


In 1996, Richard Long and Roger Ackling selected Creed to exhibit at EASTinternational. In the decade since winning the Turner Prize he has exhibited extensively throughout the world, including large survey shows at Trussardi Foundation, Milan ('I Like Things'), Bard College, New York ('Feelings'), and a touring exhibition which started at Ikon Gallery Birmingham and toured to Hiroshima and Seoul.

The first major survey show of Creed's, 'What's the point of it?', took place at the Hayward Gallery, London, in January 2014. The exhibition included a number of his best-known works, from the installation Work No. 227 The Lights Going On and Off (2000), Work No. 293 A sheet of paper crumpled into a ball (2003), to his epic sculpture Work No. 1092 MOTHERS (2011). Coinciding with the exhibition at the Hayward, the Southbank Centre commissioned Martin to compose a new piece for the Royal Festival Hall organ, resulting in Work No. 1815, a performance alongside some of J.S Bach's greatest organ works.

Today, Creed's visual work is represented by Hauser & Wirth, Gavin Brown's Enterprise and Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma.

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]


  • "Martin Creed", Kyoto City University Of Arts Art Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
  • "Martin Creed", Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich, Germany
  • "Martin Creed", Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Austria
  • "The Back Door", Park Avenue Armory, New York, USA
  • "What You Find", Hauser & Wirth, Somerset, UK
  • "Work No. 2630: UNDERSTANDING", Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, USA


  • "Martin Creed" BASE / Progetti per l'arte, Florence, Italy
  • Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Norway
  • Peter Lund, Oslo, Norway
  • Michael Lett, Auckland, New Zealand
  • "Work No.2314: Everything Is Going To Be Alright" Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • NEAR EAST, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Germany
  • Residency at "Station to Station" Barbican Art Gallery, London, England
  • "Martin Creed" Kunsthalle Vogelmann, Hellbronn, Germany
  • "Work No.360 Half the air in a given space" Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, USA
  • "Work No.1562 Half the air in a given space" THEMUSEUM, Ontario, Canada
  • "Like Water At A Buffet" Kappatos Gallery, Athens, Greece
  • Galeria Javier Lopez, Madrid, Spain


  • "Martin Creed: ARTISTS ROOMS On Tour" Quay Arts, Isle of Wight, England
  • "Martin Creed" Johnen Galerie, Berlin, Germany
  • "What's the point of it?", Hayward Gallery, London, England
  • "ARTISTS ROOMS: Martin Creed" Tate Britain, London, England


  • "Martin Creed: Scales", Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield CT
  • "Martin Creed", Hauser & Wirth and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York NY
  • "Artist Rooms: Martin Creed", Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, England
  • "Martin Creed", Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma, Rome, Italia
  • "Martin Creed", The Warhol, Pittsburg PA
  • "Nuit Blanche Paris, Work No. 1676: All the Bells", 3 minutes at 19:00, Paris, France


  • "Martin Creed" MALI, Lima, Peru
  • "Work No. 268", Pavement Gallery, Manchester, England
  • "Work No. 965: Half the air in a given space", Cleveland Art Museum, Cleveland OH


  • "Work No. 1059", Scotsman Steps, Edinburgh, Scotland[8]
  • "Martin Creed: Works", MARCO, Vigo, Spain
  • "Things/Cosas", Sala Alcala 31, Madrid, Spain
  • "Martin Creed: Collected Works", Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada
  • "Sightings: Martin Creed", Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas TX[9]
  • "Mothers", Hauser & Wirth, London, England


  • "Martin Creed: Work No. 409", Southbank Centre Chorus Festival, London, England
  • "Down Over Up", Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • "Ballet: Work No. 1020", (Part of Edinburgh Festival) Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • The Common Guild, Glasgow, Scotland


  • Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
  • "Work No. 975: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT", Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Artsonje Center, Seoul, Korea (Travelling Exhibition)


  • "Martin Creed", Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma, Rome, Italia
  • Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England (Travelling Exhibition)


  • "Feelings", Hessel Museum of Art and CCS Galleries, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY
  • Hauser & Wirth Coppermill, London, England


  • "I Like Things", Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan, Italy
  • Hauser & Wirth Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • "Martin Creed"s Variety Show", Tate Modern, London, England


  • "Work No. 409", Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England (Permanent Installation)


  • Hauser & Wirth, London, England
  • "The whole world + the work = the whole world", Centre for Contemporary Art, Udjadowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland


  • Kunsthalle Bern, Berne, Switzerland
  • "Work No. 289", The British School, Rome, Italy


  • "Art Now: Martin Creed", Tate Britain, London, England

Selected group exhibitions[edit]


  • "ExtraORDINARY: Everyday objects & actions in contemporary art", The Lowry, Manchester, England
  • "Work No. 1701" Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • "20 Years of Collecting: Between Discovery and Invention", Zabludowicz Collection, London, England
  • "Private Utopia: Contemporary Works from the British Council Collection", Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand
  • "REFLECTIONS: Creed & LeWitt", National Galleries Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland


  • "A World Undone", Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand
  • "Martin Creed" Bestival, Isle of White, England
  • "Art or Sound", Fondazione Prada, Venice, Italy
  • "Frieze Sculpture Park", London, GB
  • "Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2014", Royal Academy, London, England


  • Work No. 570" Art Unlimited, Basel, Switzerland
  • "Simon Starling Commission" Tate Britain, London, England
  • "A House of Leaves'’, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, England


  • ""Artists Rooms: Martin Creed", Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, England
  • "Sculpture is Everything" Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
  • "Made in Britain – Contemporary Art from the British Council Collection 1980 – 201",Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece


  • "ILLUMInations", Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
  • "Open House", Singapore Biennale, Singapore
  • "Summer Collection Display", Tate St Ives, Cornwall, England
  • "8½: A Selection of works from the exhibitions organized by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi from 2003 to the present", Stazione Leopolda, Florence, Italy

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]