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Muralist Richard Wright wins Britain's Turner Prize

Muralist Richard Wright has won Britain's most esteemed art award, the Turner Prize. His exhibition in the Tate Britain will disappear for good in just a few weeks.

Scottish artist Richard Wright

Wright was 'shocked, yet pleased' by the award

The Scotland-based artist is known for his intricate and finely ordered wall paintings, which are painted over once they've been exhibited.

His contribution to the 2009 Turner Prize exhibition was a Baroque-style mural in gold leaf which covered most of a wall at the Tate Britain museum. When the exhibit closes January 3, it will be painted over - just like his other works.

Wright, who at 49 is the oldest Turner winner, said winning was "shocking but very good, very good."

"Thanks very much. Just when I thought it was OK to relax, this happens," Wright said. He will take home a prize of 28,000 euros ($41,000).

Scottish artist Richard Wright

Wright's murals 'respond directly to the context of a space,' said the committee

The annual award is given to a British artist under the age of fifty "for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding." It was created in 1984 and named for 19th-century landscape painter JMW Turner.

Wright's murals are personalized to the space in which they are exhibited. Instead of painting on a canvas which is then hung on a wall, he often paints directly on the more obscure corners of a room's surface: door frames, alcoves, and stairwells.

Wright was chosen from among four artists shortlisted for the prize. The bookmakers' favorite was sculptor Roger Hiorns, who coated the inside of an abandoned apartment with 90,000 liters (more than 23,000 gallons) of a copper sulfate solution that turned the space into a cave of bright blue crystals.

Also nominated were Italian-born surrealist Enrico David and multimedia artist Lucy Skaer, whose work includes a sperm whale skull viewed through peepholes. As finalists, they will receive prizes of 5,500 euros ($8,200) each.

Past winners have included several enfants terribles of the contemporary art world, including Damien Hirst, who famously - or infamously - exhibited a series of pickled animal corpses, and painter Chris Ofili, whose use of elephant dung in elements of his work has sparked controversy.

Editor: Kate Bowen

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