Northern Ireland

MAC International: £20,000 art prize launches in Belfast

MAC International
Image caption Hugh Mulholland, curator at The MAC, and Carál Ní Chuilín at the announcement of the shortlist for the prize

A global art prize, the MAC International, has been launched in Belfast, with 25 artists shortlisted for the £20,000 award.

The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) said the prize will be judged by an international panel.

The centre invited open submissions for the prize, with over 1,000 artists entering from over 30 countries.

Belfast artists Dougal McKenzie and Colin Darke are among those shortlisted.

Three other artists originally born in Northern Ireland, but now based in London, are also shortlisted - Roxy Walsh, Mike Harvey and Mairead McClean.

Darek Fortas and Maria McKinney, from Dublin, are also included in the final list for the £20,000 prize.

The winner will be announced at the opening ceremony of the prize on 30 October.

The shortlisted projects - including sculpture, painting, photography, film and performance - will then be exhibited for free, from 31 October to 18 January 2015.

The MAC said the exhibition is expected to attract about 60,000 visitors.

Hugh Mulholland, curator at the centre, said: "MAC International will make a major contribution to the visual arts sector in the UK and beyond.

"It has already made a global impact, with 1,016 submissions coming in from across the world, alongside submissions from Irish and UK artists.

"The calibre of the judging panel adds significant weight to the exhibition's international credentials, while the £20,000 on offer to the winner represents one of the largest art prizes in the UK."

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín added: "In order to nurture young and emerging talent here, it is vital they are able to experience the best from both international and home-grown artists.

"The international art prize offers the opportunity to view innovative and pioneering contemporary visual art of all forms.

"This is at the very heart of international contemporary art and will ensure that both the reputation of the MAC and contemporary arts here continue to grow."

Judith Nesbitt, head of national and international partnerships at Tate, London, will be part of the judging panel.

She said: "The MAC consistently brings the best of contemporary visual art to audiences in Northern Ireland and this open exhibition has widened the net in exciting and unpredictable ways."

Susie McCullough, from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said it was expected that there would be "significant national and international interest" in the exhibition.

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