- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 4, 2011

LONDON (AP) - A sculptor who molds dirt, flour and other everyday detritus is the favorite to win this year’s Turner Prize, Britain’s best-known and most provocative art award.

Organizers on Wednesday named four finalists for the 25,000-pound ($41,000) prize, awarded annually to a British artist under 50.

The front-runner is Glasgow-based Karla Black, 38, who sculpts with unusual materials including flour, plaster, petroleum jelly and soil.

One piece, recently on display at London’s Hayward Gallery, was a large layered dirt mound resembling a multitiered cake or a stone ziggurat.

Katrina Brown, a member of the prize jury, said Black used “very insubstantial and often surprising materials” including bath salts, lipstick and soil, to create work with a “vulnerable beauty.”

Also on the shortlist is 43-year-old Scottish artist Martin Boyce, whose Modernism-inspired installations have used fences, chairs, garbage bins and neon lights.

The other finalists are London-based video artist Hilary Lloyd, 46, who captures building sites, highway bridges and other eerie urban scenes; and 44-year-old English artist George Shaw, the only painter among the nominees, who creates suburban tableaux inspired by his childhood using enamel model paint.

The Turner Prize, named after 19th-century landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, was established in 1984 to honor younger British artists.

The prize often sparks lively debate about the value of modern art. Past winners include “Brit Art” upstarts such as transvestite potter Grayson Perry, dung-daubing painter Chris Ofili and shark pickler Damien Hirst.

It also attracts bets from art-loving gamblers. Bookmakers William Hill made Black the 6/4 favorite to win this year’s prize, followed by Shaw at 5/2, Lloyd at 3/1 and Boyce at 4/1.

An exhibition of work by the finalists opens at the Baltic gallery in Gateshead, northern England, on Oct. 21. The winner will be announced Dec. 5.





Jill Lawless can be reached at https://twitter.com/JillLawless

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