Susan Philipsz winning the Turner prize is the right result, and I feel the same pleasure in her win as I did when painter Tomma Abts won in 2006. In both cases I was impressed by the artists' originality - not a word you hear much in contemporary art circles, their inventiveness, and the difficult yet accessible pleasures their art can give.
Dexter Dalwood's paintings seemed to me too brittle, too clever and contrived to win. He was let down by having too many works in the show, too few of which were in themselves compelling. Each painting was a compendium of styles and references, and it all felt a bit too dutiful and congested. I much prefer Angela de la Cruz's work, with its painful humour, honesty and knockabout abjection. But De la Cruz's work seems to me to be at a moment of transition. Having only recently returned to work following a debilitating stroke, her ensemble of recent and older paintings and sculptures was as much a statement of intent as a fully achieved exhibition. Last month, de la Cruz won a coveted £35,000 Paul Hamlyn award. This is as valuable and prestigious as winning the Turner Prize.
Like De la Cruz, the wider exposure of the art of the Otolith Group collective has been valuable. It is as though Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar wanted to make life as hard on the audience as possible. I took a perverse delight in the fact that they made us work at their art, which is as erudite as it is sensual, as sexy as it is filmic. But they have an almost academic streak that makes one think one is in a classroom or study centre.
Philipsz is the first artist working with sound to have won the prize. I can imagine people saying she is just a singer, with the sort of voice you might feel lucky to come across at a folk club. But there is much more to Philipsz than a good voice. All singers, of course, are aware of the space their voice occupies, of the difference between one hall and another. We know it ourselves, singing in the shower. But the way Philipsz sites recordings of her voice is as much to do with place as sound. She has haunted the Clyde and filled her box-like Turner installation with the ballad Lowlands; she has called across a lake in Germany and had her voice swept away by the wind on a Folkestone headland.
Her current Artangel project, Surround Me, insinuates itself down alleys and courtyards in the City of London, her voice like an Elizabethan ghost, singing melancholy works by John Dowland and other 16th and 17th century composers. I have stood in shadowy old courtyards and between gleaming office blocks, weeping as I listen. And how many artists can you say that about?
Her sense of place, and space, memory and presence reminds me, weirdly, of the sculptor Richard Serra at his best. Her art makes you think of your place in the world, and opens you up to your feelings.