30 Nov, 2009

Northern Art prize 2009 finalists announced

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Rachel Goodyear and Matt Stokes are among the contenders for this year’s award, which honours artists who live and work in the north of England

Texas, Berlin and other centres far from the Pennines feature in the newly announced shortlist for this year’s Northern Art prize, which has just gone on show at Leeds City Art Gallery.

Selected from a longlist of 25, four artists are in contention for the £16,500 prize. The work includes the delicate but disturbing drawings of Rachel Goodyear, installations using projectors by Pavel Büchler, and multimedia works by Matt Stokes.

The fourth contenders are Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, respectively from Macclesfield and Barnsley, who produce video and sculptural works that focus on issues such as faith and politics. All four finalists exhibit internationally – Stokes in Texas, Büchler in China, and Crowe and Rawlinson in Germany, while Goodyear’s work is in collections worldwide.

The prize, now in its third year, is reckoned to be the strongest yet by Pippa Hale, the Leeds-based artist who heads the organising team. “Each year, the prize has done more to strengthen the reputation of the visual arts in the north,” she says. “That, in turn, helps to build the sort of structure and support which can help artists thrive.”

The award’s prime objective is to demonstrate that artists can make a living and reputation without moving to London, and entry is limited to artists living and working in the north of England. The first award in 2007 was won by Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope, for installations based on their workplace in Cumbria. Last year’s winner, Paul Rooney, told the awards ceremony in Leeds that the prize was developing a reputation for “quality and bravery”.

The judging panel, whose decision will be announced on 21 January 2010, includes Turner prize-winner Richard Deacon and Paul Hobson, director of the Contemporary Art Society.

Tanja Pirsig-Marshall, who has curated the exhibition at Leeds City Art Gallery (until 21 February, admission free), said: “We have got a unique and vibrant collection of work this year. It sets the scene for a fascinating competition.”

Anyone can vote online for their favourite, but the judges will make the final decision.

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