Two Scottish sculptors are among four nominees for the 2011 Turner Prize, one of contemporary art’s most prestigious and controversial awards, following the success last year of Scotland’s Susan Philipsz.

Karla Black, the youngest of the nominees aged 38, was born in Alexandria, Scotland, and lives and works in Glasgow, as does Hamilton-born Martin Boyce, aged 43.

Completing the shortlist announced on Wednesday were English artists Hilary Lloyd, 46, a London-based film maker, and 44-year-old George Shaw, a painter who works in North Devon. The annual prize awards British artists aged under 50 for an “outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding.”

Established in 1984, it has thrived on public debate about what constitutes art, with critics in the past accusing winners of creating works designed purely to shock. Previous winners of the award, which comes with a cheque for 25,000 pounds ($41,170), include Grayson Perry, a cross-dressing ceramicist, and Martin Creed, whose installation in 2001 featured lights going on and off in an empty room.

Philipsz was the first sound artist to win the award. Among the 2011 nominees, Black’s installations combine traditional tools of sculpture with everyday materials like lipstick, soil, balsa wood and eye shadow. “She selects things she ‘cannot help but use’, starting each work through some unconscious desire,” organizers said in a statement. “Her sculptures have an innate fragility, threatening to collapse, fall, tear, or even blow away at any moment.”

Boyce, influenced by Modernist design, has said of his work: “Surface has the potential to have depth. It can take you places.” His trademark installations include suspended trees made from neon, metal fences and mobiles which have been compared to works by Alexander Calder. “His signature installations … might be a stage set, nightclub or an urban park at twilight, but they are all playgrounds for the mind,” read a feature on Boyce published by the Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

Lloyd creates images using video, slides and photography, and incorporates the image-making equipment into the work. The artist tends to concentrate on her surrounding urban environment, focusing on buildings and construction sites as well as everyday human scenes such as waiters working in a cafe or a woman building houses of cards.

Shaw, the only painter on the shortlist, creates drab, deserted urban landscapes based on his adolescence in Coventry. They are devoid of human figures, although in an interview he explained: “To me, they are teeming with human presences.
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The people I grew up with, family, passers-by, they are all in there somewhere, embedded in the paintings.” He deliberately uses Humbrol enamel paints more traditionally used by young model makers. “They are humble paints,” he said. “They’re not made for saying the great things in life like oil paint is made for — flesh and life and death and skulls and Jesus.
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The Turner Prize will be held this year at the BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England.

The gallery will host an exhibition of the shortlisted artists’ work from October 21 and the winner will be announced there on December 5.