Beck's Futures shortlist abandons the sensational for 'more serious' artworks

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The Independent Online

The Beck's Futures shortlist, with its flash-mobs, banana doodles and artists who sew balsa wood to the soles of their feet, can normally be relied on to generate a few groans of despair from those who like their art traditional.

The Beck's Futures shortlist, with its flash-mobs, banana doodles and artists who sew balsa wood to the soles of their feet, can normally be relied on to generate a few groans of despair from those who like their art traditional.

But in its sixth year, organisers of the most lucrative prize in the British art world are trumpeting an end to including work which is "sensational for sensation's sake". Building on what they see as a more serious mood pervading major art prizes this year - such as the Turner and the Booker - they claim they have come up with a shortlist which combines originality with artistic integrity.

There will even be examples of painting and drawing when the show opens at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in March. It will then transfer to the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow in May before the winner is announced.

Six, rather than 10, artists have been chosen this year, to give each more space. It will also mean more money. The winner receives £25,000, while the runners-up share the remaining £45,000.

The list includes Lali Chetwynd, a graduate of the Royal College of Art's painting school, and a highly regarded painter and performance artist. Her work, which explores extreme human expression, has been exhibited at the Liverpool Biennial and the Barbican in London.

The Scottish artist Donald Urquhart, whose "The Beautiful Bend" drag cabaret night was one of the big hits of Nineties club land, is also on the list. He has enjoyed growing acclaim for his black-ink drawings which he uses to illustrate flyers and wall decorations.

Luke Fowler, the film artist and also a Scot, who earlier this year received a £25,000 Dewar Arts Award is represented, as is Daria Martin, who also specialises in film.

The other two artists are the installation sculptor Christina Mackie and Ryan Gander, who works in a variety of media.

Jens Hoffmann, the ICA director of exhibitions and chairman of this year's panel of judges, said this year's event was about serious art. "The exhibition for 2005 will provide each artist with the space and seriousness they deserve and bring an added dimension to this already prestigious award," he said.

His fellow judge, Cerith Wyn Evans, said that it was an opportunity for the artists to be "seen rather than misheard".

She added: "In [this] climate of all-knowing, all-embracing media overload, it is harder than ever to be distinctive; to have a fresh voice or vision."

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