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Array Collective win Turner Prize 2021 for their work addressing urgent social and political issues

Ireland Architecture News - Dec 02, 2021 - 11:54   3039 views

Array Collective win Turner Prize 2021 for their work addressing urgent social and political issues

Northern Ireland art group Array Collective has won the 2021 Turner Prize for their hopeful and dynamic artworks addressing urgent social and political issues affecting Northern Ireland with humour, seriousness and beauty.

The members of Array Collective are composed of Sighle Bhreathnach-Cashell, Sinead Bhreathnach-Cashell, Jane Butler, Emma Campbell, Alessia Cargnelli, Mitch Conlon, Clodagh Lavelle, Grace McMurray, Stephen Millar, Laura O'Connor, Thomas Wells.

The collective was awarded as the winner of the 2021 Turner Prize on 1 December, 2021 at a ceremony at Coventry Cathedral, in partnership with Tate and Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

Turner Prize is one of the world’s best-known prizes for the visual arts, the prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art and was established in 1984. Originating at Tate Britain, the Turner Prize regularly travels to other venues in the UK.

For the first time, this year's Turner Prize jury selected a shortlist consisting entirely of artist collectives and artist-run projects: Array Collective, Black Obsidian Sound System, Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical and Project Art Works.

Array Collective win Turner Prize 2021 for their work addressing urgent social and political issues

Array Collective, International Women’s Day 2019. Image © Alessia Cargnelli

The £25,000 prize was presented by Pauline Black, the lead singer of 2 Tone pioneers, The Selecter, during a live broadcast on the BBC. 

A further £10,000 was awarded to each of the other nominees. This year the Turner Prize exhibition is being held at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry as a highlight of its City of Culture year.

Belfast-based Array Collective is a group of 11 artists who create collaborative actions in response to socio-political issues affecting Northern Ireland. 

The collective has been working together more actively since 2016, motivated by the growing anger around human rights issues happening at the time. 

Array Collective win Turner Prize 2021 for their work addressing urgent social and political issues

Cooking Sections. Image © Garry Jones

Their intention is to reclaim and review the dominant ideas about religio-ethnic identity in Northern Ireland. 

Working as constituents or allies of the communities they protest with and make art about, Array Collective aims to create a new mythology for the growing number of people who do not prescribe to embedded sectarian dichotomies.

Array Collective win Turner Prize 2021 for their work addressing urgent social and political issues

Cooking Sections, Salmon A Red Herring 2020. Photo © Tate, Lucy Dawkins

The members of the Turner Prize 2021 jury are Aaron Cezar, Director - Delfina Foundation, Kim McAleese - Programme Director, Grand Union; Russell Tovey - Actor, and Zoé Whitley - Director, Chisenhale Gallery. 

The jury is chaired by Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain.

Array Collective win Turner Prize 2021 for their work addressing urgent social and political issues

Black Obsidian Sound System by Array Collective. Image © David Levene

The exhibition is a highlight of Coventry’s UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations. Herbert Art Gallery and Museum champions Coventry’s culture, city and arts and is one of the UK’s leading regional museums. 

As part of its preparations for City of Culture 2021, the museum underwent a major redevelopment of its gallery spaces in anticipation of the Turner Prize exhibition. 

In parallel to the Turner Prize exhibition, Coventry also hosts "Coventry Biennial 2021: Hyper-Possible" across Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition of the five shortlisted collectives at The Herbert Art Gallery & Music continues until 12 January 2022. Entry is free.

Array Collective win Turner Prize 2021 for their work addressing urgent social and political issues

Project Art Works by Array Collective. Image © David Levene

Recent initiatives and works include: Jerwood Collaborate! at the Jerwood Arts, London in 2019, a-n Artists Council's Artists Make Change in 2020, as well as organising projects in response to issues such as queer liberation, abortion rights, mental health, gentrification, eco-politics, social welfare and Northern Ireland’s fractured past.

Playfully using performance, protest, photography, print, installation and video, Array Collective work with a range of other creative people and organisations to create a combination of artistic expression, direct action and public interventions in the city and online.

Array Collective win Turner Prize 2021 for their work addressing urgent social and political issues

Gentle Radical artwork by Array Collective. Image © David Levene

Their recent project As Others See Us (2019), for example, centred on three fictional characters drawn from the pre-Christian myths and folklore of ancient Ireland: "Ban Bidh: The Sacred Cow", "An Scáth Fada: The Long Shadow" and "An Mór Ríoghain: The Morrigan". 

These characters have since shape-shifted through crowds at Belfast Pride and up the banks of the River Thames in a series of interventions and performance protests.

Previous Turner Prize winners include Abu Hamdan/Cammock/Murillo/Shani in 2019, Charlotte Prodger in 2018, Lubaina Himid in 2017, London-based sculptor Helen Marten in 2016, London-based collective Assemble in 2015. 

Top image: Array Collective, courtesy of Tate. 

> via Tate