A new age for the Turner Prize as older nominees selected

High-profile art award scraps age barrier and chooses mature and multicultural shortlist

Lubaina Himid
Lubaina Himid was born in Zanzibar but now lectures in contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire
(Image credit: Tate)

The Turner Prize, long associated with boosting the careers of young artists, has anointed an older and more ethnically diverse selection of contenders this year after its age limit was lifted.

The prestigious art prize was once known for helping the careers of Young British Artists including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, but this year all four shortlisted artists are over 40, with the oldest nominee aged 62. Previously the upper age limit for the prize was 50.

This year's shortlisted artists are Hurvin Anderson, 52, a leading contemporary painter who takes inspiration from his youth in Birmingham's African-Caribbean community; Andrea Buttner, 45, a German artist working in print, sculpture and painting; Rosalind Nashashibi, 43, a London-based film artist and painter of Irish and Palestinian heritage; and Lubaina Himid, 62, a Zanzibar-born, Preston-based professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire. Her works explore and champion black culture and were praised by Turner judges for "addressing pertinent questions of personal and political identity".

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Despite the rise in average ages for the nominees, judges insisted it was not a factor in the selection process. Jury member Mason Leaver-Yap told the Evening Standard: "I think the lifting of the age limit actually allows us to think more freely."

Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chairman of the Turner Prize jury said the prize had always championed "emerging artists" no matter their age.

"It has never been a prize for long service but for a memorable presentation of work in that year," said Farquharson. “Now that its reputation is so firmly established, we want to acknowledge the fact that artists can experience a breakthrough in their work at any age."

The sculptor Anish Kapoor, who won the prize in 1991 when he was 37, told The Guardian the rule change was positive.

“It is a good thing,” Kapoor said. “We have had a long, long, long obsession with youth in the art world and I think it is good to recognise that it often takes a lifetime to really have the work recognised, to be an artist."

An exhibition of work by the shortlisted artists will open at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull on 26 September, and the winner of the £25,000 prize will be announced during a ceremony at the gallery on 5 December.

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