The Northern Art Prize begins with a long list of up to 24 artists, put forward by our nominators. Long listed artists are invited to submit examples of their work (see the image…batches of big envelopes start arriving!) The long list is then narrowed down to a shortlist of four artists who exhibit their work at Leeds Art Gallery. From this exhibition of four a winner is chosen. The same panel of selectors choose the list of four and later pick the winner – this years’ selectors are: Tomma Abts (Artist), Margot Heller (Director of South London Gallery), Jennifer Higgie (Co-Editor of contemporary arts magazine ‘Frieze’) and James Lingwood (Co-Director of Artangel) under the stewardship of Sarah Brown, Curator of Exhibitions at Leeds Art Gallery.
So what’s the point of the long list? Think, for example, of the Turner Prize; publically there is only ever a shortlist. Or what about the John Moores Painting Prize or the Jerwood Prizes; these exhibit a larger number of artists from which a winner is chosen. Having a two stage process the Northern Art Prize perhaps sits somewhere between the two. This means we can profile a larger number of artists and – as touched upon in previous posts – also highlight the great arts organisations and curators working in the north. Yet it means that once we reach the shortlist stage we can dedicate our resources to a producing a significant exhibition by the four shortlisted artists. As you will see in future posts a lot of work goes into planning and curating the Northern Art Prize exhibition. If the exhibition were to include all long listed artists it would be a very different beast!
We do however really believe in the long list as a profiler of artists in the north. This stage of the prize allows us to promote their work to the public and to the press. A further vital aspect of the long list is that all nominated artists will have their work viewed and considered in depth by our panel of selectors. Although only four will be picked (a very difficult task from such a strong list) it brings the work of all nominated artists to the attention of a group of significant arts professionals.
Coming soon…Behind the prize – picking the shortlist