2 artists, who are over 50s, among those shortlisted for UK art's edgy Turner Prize

LONDON (AFP) - Two artists aged over 50 were nominated on Wednesday (May 3) for this year's Turner Prize, after the age limits were lifted for Britain's most prestigious yet controversial visual art award.

Lubaina Himid, 62, and Hurvin Anderson, 52, were joined by 45-year-old Andrea Buettner and Rosalind Nashashibi, 43, on the shortlist announced at the Tate Britain gallery in London.

First presented in 1984, the award set an upper age limit of 50 in 1991, but the rule was lifted this year to recognise that artists can peak at any age, the prize jury said.

This year's nominees mark a return to more traditional art forms.

British painter Anderson's vibrant works use still-life, landscape and portraiture to explore themes of community and identity. He draws upon his Jamaican heritage and references the visibility of the black community, with work such as Is It Okay To Be Black?.

Zanzibar-born Himid makes paintings, prints and installations which celebrate black creativity, referencing the slave trade and colonial legacies. Her work includes paintings done on pages of The Guardian newspaper.

Palestinian-English artist Nashashibi works primarily in 60-mm film. She drew on domestic life in the Gaza Strip for her piece Electrical Gaza and examines the issues of protocols and borders.

German artist Buettner works in woodcuts, prints, sculpture and video. She has transcribed the finger smudges on her smartphone screen into colourful etchings, worked with nuns and used the fabric of labourers' jackets to explore ideas of shame and vulnerability.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony on Dec 5.

Works by the nominated artists will be exhibited from Sept 26 to Jan 7 at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, northern England, this year's UK City of Culture.

"It'll be a lively exhibition. We are living in serious times and we felt like this needed to be reflected in this year's shortlist," said The Showroom gallery's director Emily Pethick, one of the five members of the prize jury.

"We really responded to artists that we felt had really deepened their practices and were at really exciting moments," she told reporters.

The prize is awarded to a British-based artist for an outstanding exhibition or presentation of work in the preceding 12 months.

The winner scoops £25,000 (S$45,000), while the other nominees receive £5,000.

Named for J. M. W. Turner, the British Romanticist landscape painter, the prize has often sparked controversy.

Winners have included Damien Hirst in 1995 with pieces including a rotting cow's head, and Chris Ofili, who incorporated elephant dung into his paintings in 1998.

The 2005 winner Simon Starling dismantled a shed, made it into a boat, then turned it back into a shed again.

Meanwhile, Tracey Emin's My Bed, a stained bed surrounded with detritus, drew huge attention when shortlisted in 1999.

Last year's prize was won by Helen Marten, who fashions sculptures from unusual materials such as fish skin and snooker chalk.

She saw off competition from a giant pair of buttocks, a mountain of money and chastity belts suspended from a ceiling.