Simon Starling, an installation artist who dismantled a shed and rode its pieces down the Rhine River before putting it back together again, has won the Turner Prize, Britain's most controversial art award.

Starling, who describes his work as "the physical manifestation of a thought process," was presented with a check for $43,000 during a ceremony Monday night at London's Tate Britain gallery.

The 38-year-old Scottish artist's entry featured "Shedboatshed," a shed he took apart, turned into a boat that he paddled down the river, and then reconstructed as a shed.

Another part of his entry was "Tabernas Desert Run," a moped he rode across a Spanish desert. The vehicle generated power using only compressed bottled hydrogen and oxygen from the desert air. The only waste product was water, which Starling collected in a bottle and later used in a watercolor painting of a cactus he saw on his travels through Andalusia.

"I don't like to be thought of as eccentric because that's not what my work is about," he said in accepting the prize.

"I went on a little expedition up the Rhine to find a structure I could use for a project and I found this shed," he said. "It had a paddle on the side, so it was just an incredible piece of luck."

The favorite to win this year's prize had been Gillian Carnegie, a painter whose work includes still lifes, landscapes and a series of nudes she calls "bum paintings." She was the first nominee in five years who exclusively uses the medium of paint.

The prize once synonymous with taboo-flouting "Brit art" upstarts such as cow-pickler Damien Hirst, dung painter Chris Ofili and cross-dressing potter Grayson Perry has mellowed.

This year's finalists were more quirky than controversial, and included Darren Almond, a multimedia artist whose entry included a video installation of his widowed grandmother revisiting the seaside town where she spent her honeymoon.

The Turner Prize show is at London's Tate Modern gallery until Jan. 22.

Simon Starling's winning installation was a shed he turned into a boat.