When it was announced, in March of this year, that the Turner Prize was going to be embracing Old British Artists by scrapping the upper age limit on the award, it got the rumour mill going — just who were the panel planning on nominating?
The Turner Prize is not a lifetime achievement award, and the age limit certainly helped push that focus on the young, emerging, often iconoclastic art of the YBAs in the 90s. But there are, for whatever reason, plenty of artists who start making incredible work post-50. Money, or lack thereof, lack of support, racism, sexism, raising a family, having to work to put food on the table - all of these are issues that can prevent artists from making their best work under the age of 50. As can having their work ignored, slept on, or under-appreciated.
Hurvin Anderson, Is It OK to Be Black
Take Lubaina Himid, one of Britain's best artists. Shockingly, she's never received even so much as a nomination for the Turner Prize, until now, aged 63, she finally has. Himid was born in 1954 in Tanzania, and grew up in Britain. This year, she's suddenly, dramatically, taken up a prominent place in the contemporary art world. She first came to prominence in the 80s as part of the British Black Art Movement with John Akomfrah, The BLK Art Group, Keith Piper and the Black Audio Film Collective, amongst others. It's an under-appreciated moment in the Britain's artistic history, finally getting some dues as part of a retrospective of 80s art in Eindhoven last year, and in Nottingham earlier this year at The Place Is Here. Himid also presented two solo exhibitions, at Modern Art Oxford, and at Spike Island in Bristol. Her work feels as poetically timely as ever, investigating Britain's place in the world, it's post-empire identity, it's multiculturalism and its racist past, by raising up Britain's forgotten black identities and histories.
Andrea Buttner, Kunsthalle St Gallen
Beyond Lubaina, all the other artists are also over 40, and all represent, to certain extents, facets of Britain's multicultural, post-war experience. Painter Hurvin Anderson, also breaking the 50+ age barrier at 52, was born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents. Like Lubaina, his work explicitly discusses and investigates race, working from photographs in collage-like paintings that are hypnotic, abstract, and forceful. Rosalind Nashashibi, the youngest of the four at 43, is half-Palestinian, half-Irish, and grew up in Croydon; she's a filmmaker whose works are currently is exhibiting as part of documenta 14 in Athens. Rounding off the four, is Andrea Büttner, a German, who studied in England at the RCA; her work spans many mediums, from printmaking to sculpture.
As part of Hull's City of Culture, this year, the Turner Prize will be heading to Yorkshire, opening at Ferens Art Gallery on 26 September, with the winner to be announced on 5 December.
Electrical Gaza by Rosalind Nashashibi
Text Felix Petty
Images courtesy of the Tate