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Article from 16/05/11

ImageAnother Turner Prize, another host of spectacularly bizarre creations. Year after year, this prestigious award in the intriguing world of modern art has baffled the general public. This time is no different, with the bookies’ favourite being a suspended ball of plastic. Pushing the boundaries is what these artists do best, but their work may leave visitors wondering where the art actually is.

Among the shortlisted are: painters Karla Black and George Shaw, sculptor Martin Boyce and video artist Hilary Lloyd. Prize juror Katrina Brown, said the list was not representative of “one school, or cluster, or movement – there is every medium in the mix and it has a diversity and maturity about it”. Although there are two painters this year, don’t get your hopes up for anything traditional. Karla Black counts lipstick, bath bombs and nail varnish among her unorthodox materials, whilst George Shaw paints landscapes in the kind of enamel paint used for decorating model aeroplanes.

38-year-old Black’s assortment of cosmetic products deployed in large installations looks more sculptural than painterly. Her piece ‘What To Ask For Others’ may appear to be just a large pink plastic bag hanging from the ceiling, but is a strong contender for the prize. Shaw, 44, with his personal juxtaposition of subject matter and material, lies on the edge of tradition. He used Humbrol enamel paint to depict the landscape of his childhood, a housing estate in Coventry. He admits of the medium: “It was quite perverse as I was making the paint do something it wasn’t designed to do.”

Boyce, 43, creates sculptural installations which evoke urban landscapes and often reference the modernist design of the early 20th century. His creation ‘A library of leaves’ looks more like a torture chamber bedstead. Lloyd, 46, uses multiple projectors and video screens to show scenes of construction sites, as well as close-ups of the naked male form, which in their entirety become a kind of sculptural installation.

The prize is intended to promote public discussion of new developments in contemporary British art, and comments have already been pouring out. Modern art seems to have the marmite effect on people’s views, with those who adore it and those who point-blank reject it as they don’t comprehend how it is ‘art’. At least all the works are in the physical realms; last year’s winner was an eight-minute recording of a folk song played to an empty room.

The whole prize is turning its back on London for the first time in its 27-year history. The work will be displayed at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, from Friday 21 October 2011. Channel 4 is sponsoring the prize fund of £40,000 and a programme featuring the live announcement of the winner will be broadcast on 5 December 2011. If you’re eager for a justification of the bewilderingly eccentric works, watch out for a series of short films on the shortlisted artists on Channel 4 and More4.