Turner Prize shortlist shocks art world by including traditional landscapes and still life

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The Independent Online

The Turner Prize, which has traditionally provoked controversy with its pickled cows and unmade beds, has once again shocked the art world - although this year the controversy lies in the emergence of an artist who paints traditional landscapes and still lifes as the favourite to win.

Within hours of Tate Britain announcing the four artists who have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2005, Gillian Carnegie, 34, was installed by bookmakers as the likely winner of the prestigious £25,000 award, sponsored by Gordon's gin. She is the first artist who exclusively uses paint as a medium to be nominated in five years.

The prize has more recently come to be associated with installations, video work and sculpture.

Nicholas Serota, the director of Tate galleries, said the jury had not specifically set out to get a painter on the shortlist. Other shortlisted artists are Darren Almond, 34, Jim Lambie, 41, and Simon Starling, 38, who mainly work in installations and photography - which might be considered more typical of the Turner Prize in recent years.

Karen Wright, editor of Modern Painters magazine, criticised the "bland" selection and suggested a more imaginative choice would have been the graffiti artist, Banksy.

The four were chosen on the basis of their work in the past year but will enter new work for the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain from 18 October to 22 January. The winner will be announced on 5 December.

SIMON STARLING

Born in Epsom, Surrey, in 1967, Starling attended Glasgow School of Art and now lives and works in Berlin and Glasgow. He describes his art as "associative collage" in which he takes an object and transforms or re-frames it through a rigorous process of inquiry. Often the process involves learning skills, such as how to make aluminium.

Last year he travelled across a desert in Andalucia, southern Spain, on an improvised, fuel cell-powered electric bicycle. He collected the waste water from the cell,brought it home and used it in painting a cactus. The work was displayed at the Modern Institute in Glasgow under a blue ceiling painted using a spray gun powered by solar energy which was captured in solar panels while he was in Andalucia. The light and air of the desert were literally transformed into a work of art. In another project, he constructed a bicycle from aluminium parts taken from a Charles Eames chair, turning a design classic, now in mass production, back into a handcrafted piece of unique art.

The Turner Prize judge Kate Bush, of the Barbican Art Gallery, said: "Starling investigates not just the style of modernism but its economic implications." The Charles Eames/ bicycle project "raises questions about people's alienation from the objects they consume," she said.

JIM LAMBIE

Born in Glasgow in 1964, Lambie still lives and works there. He makes colourful installations and sculptures from everyday ephemera such as plastic bags, wool, safety pins and even black puddings, and remnants of popular culture such as trashy accessories or band memorabilia.

He is best-known for a series of psychedelic floor pieces, which he calls Zobop, made from strips of multi-coloured vinyl tape. Following the existing architecture of a room, he applies continuous lines of tape to the floor, working from the outside in to the middle.

His involvement in the Glasgow music scene, as a musician and DJ, is also a powerful influence. In She's Lost Control (2002), 11 different speakers were mounted along a wall, each clad with mirrored sheets and covered in brightly coloured T-shirts. For Let it Bleed (2001), he covered a series of turn-tables with a thick covering of glitter to create a hypnotic effect as they rotated.

Turner Prize judge Louisa Buck, of The Art Newspaper, said: "He uses the rigour of modernism but subverts it with flamboyant use of unexpected materials such as safety pins."

DARREN ALMOND

Born in Wigan in 1971, Almond now lives in London. He uses photography, film, sculpture and installation to create works said to meditate on time, space and human experience.

He is best known for a series of works connected with the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Bus Stop 1999 is comprised of the actual bus stops that he saw in Auschwitz in the late 1990s. He borrowed and displayed them in a gallery in Berlin in exchange for newly built replacements.

Among his other works is an ongoing Fullmoon series of long exposure photographs of landscapes at night. These are often taken in dramatic locations used by earlier artists such as Turner and Constable.

Turner Prize judge Kate Bush, of the Barbican Art Gallery, said: "Space and time are both the subject matter and the raw materials of Darren Almond's art. He is technologically experimental yet conceptually consistent."

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