The Turner Prize 2021 has been awarded to Array Collective. 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.
The jury awarded the prize to Array Collective for their hopeful and dynamic artwork which addresses urgent social and political issues affecting Northern Ireland with humour, seriousness and beauty. The jury were impressed with how Belfast-based Array Collective were able to translate their activism and values into the gallery environment, creating a welcoming, immersive and surprising exhibition. The jury commended all five nominees for their socially engaged artworks, and how they work closely and creatively with communities across the breadth of the UK. The collaborative practices highlighted in this year’s shortlist also reflect the solidarity and generosity demonstrated in response to our divided times.
One of the world’s best-known prizes for the visual arts, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. 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.
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.
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.
Turner Prize 2021 12th January 2022 Admission free Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP
About the artist
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. 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.
Recent initiatives and works include: Jerwood Collaborate!, Jerwood Arts, London (2019), a-n Artists Council’s Artists Make Change (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.
Array Collective playfully use performance, protest, photography, print, installation and video. They 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. 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.
Array Collective was nominated for their use of DIY sensibility to tackle issues facing Northern Ireland. The jury commended recent projects, including public artworks in support of the decriminalisation of abortion, challenging legislative discrimination of the queer community in Northern Ireland, and participation in the group exhibition Jerwood Collaborate! in London in late 2019.
Array Collective comprises: Sighle Bhreathnach-Cashell, Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell, Jane Butler, Alessia Cargnelli, Emma Campbell, Mitch Conlon, Clodagh Lavelle, Grace McMurray, Stephen Millar, Laura O’Connor and Thomas Wells. The collective is based and predominantly works in Belfast. arraystudiosbelfast.com