LONDON — Ingrid Pollard, a pioneering black female photographer, and Veronica Ryan, a black sculptor who gained widespread recognition in her 60s, are among the nominees for this year’s Turner Prize, Britain’s prestigious prize for fine art.
The four-man shortlist was announced on Tuesday during an online press conference at Tate Liverpool, an art museum in northern England.
Heather Phillipson, who has presented several high-profile public works of art in Britain, was also nominated. In 2020, she installed “The End” in London’s Trafalgar Square, a work featuring a 31-foot statue of a dollop of whipped cream, with a fly on it.
The fourth artist on the list was Sin Wai Kin, a Toronto-born non-binary artist.
Pollard, 69, who was born in Guyana before moving to Britain as a child, has drawn attention since the 1980s for her work on black life, including its relationship to rural settings. Christine Eyene, an art historian and one of the judges for this year’s award, said at the press conference that Pollard’s work had “uncovered for decades stories and histories hidden in one obvious place.”
Ryan, 66, creates sculptures of seeds, pods and fruits, as well as assemblies of sewn and crocheted clear fabrics. She told The Guardian newspaper last year that for a long time her art “didn’t really make enough to pay the rent”, but that her career had blossomed recently, including commissions for major public art. She can be seen at this year’s Whitney Biennale in New York.
Phillipson, 43, has had major exhibitions at Tate Britain, in London, and the Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, in the north of England. Sin Wai Kin, 31, is known for films and performances that mix genres, including traditional Chinese opera and drag shows.
Founded in 1984, the Turner Prize is one of the most important prizes in the international art world, with past winners such as Damien Hirst and Steve McQueen becoming global stars. But the award has long been controversial in Britain, with newspaper critics often complaining that the nominated artists were too obscure or that their work was more activism than art.
Last year, Array Collective, a group of 11 artists who attend political protests in Northern Ireland while holding home-made props and humorous banners, took home the award. In 2019, the award was won by all four nominated artists, including Colombian artist Oscar Murillo, after they issued a statement saying that their highly political work was “incompatible with the competition format”.
This year’s winner, chosen by a six-member jury, will be announced at a ceremony on December 7. A free exhibition of works by the four nominees will be held at Tate Liverpool from 20 October to 19 March.