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Turner Prize 2021: Belfast’s Array Collective hoping to land award at Coventry ceremony

A Belfast-based group of artists are hoping to land one of the most sought-after awards in the art world on Wednesday evening after being nominated for the Turner Prize.

The Array Collective have been nominated for the 2021 prize which will be crowned in a ceremony at Coventry Cathedral.

Established in 1984, the prize is named after the radical British painter JMW Turner, with the winner awarded £25,000 and £10,000 given to each of those shortlisted.

This is the first time that the Turner Prize shortlist is made up entirely of artist collectives.

Representing Northern Ireland among the five artists shortlisted, Array Collective brings together a host of Belfast artists creating collaborative pieces in response to social issues.

The group combine a host of artistic mediums in their work including protest, ancient mythology, photography, installation and video.

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Array Collective’s recent projects include public artworks in support of the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

The Druithaib’s Ball – Array Collective’s nominated work on display at the Herbert Art Gallery - is set up as a mock pub and immersive installation described as “a place to gather outside the sectarian divides”.

Pauline Black, lead singer of the 70s and 80s two-tone band The Selector will crown this year's winner at the Coventry ceremony.

The winning work and those nominated will be open to view until January and is free to visit at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry.

Competing for the prize alongside Array Collective are Cardiff based group Gentle/Radical, London’s Black Obsidian Sound System, Cooking Sections and Hastings-based Project Art Works – a group of neurodiverse artists with brain differences such as ADHD and autism.

The winner will be decided by the Turner Prize 2021 jury who are: Aaron Cezar, director of the Delfina Foundation; Kim McAleese, programme director of Grand Union; actor Russell Tovey; and Zoe Whitley, director of Chisenhale Gallery.

The jury is chaired by Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain.

“One of the great joys of the Turner Prize is the way it captures and reflects the mood of the moment in contemporary British art,” he said.

“After a year of lockdowns when very few artists have been able to exhibit publicly, the jury has selected five outstanding collectives whose work has not only continued through the pandemic but become even more relevant as a result.”

The Turner Prize is awarded annually to an artist born, living or working in Britain, for an outstanding exhibition or public presentation of their work anywhere in the world in the previous year.

Every other year the Turner Prize is staged outside London, with Coventry hosting it as part of their City of Culture celebrations.

Winners of the award in the past have included the likes of Damien Hirst and Hollywood director Steve McQueen.

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