Turner Prize announces its 2012 shortlist

This year's shortlist encompasses a mixture of art forms.

It's that time of year again: the shortlist for the Turner Prize has been announced. Spartacus Chetwynd, Luke Fowler, Paul Noble and Elizabeth Price have all been shortlisted for the award.

The Turner Prize was founded in 1984. The winner, chosen from a group of British artists under the age of 50 who has contributed significantly to the British contemporary art scene, is awarded £25,000, while the other three shortlisted each receive £5,000. 

Last year, the award was won by the Scottish sculptor Martin Boyce for his installation Do words have voices. The award ceremony, held at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, was interrupted by the international streaker Mark Roberts who was hired by the artist Benedikt Dichgans. 

So what of the artists on this year's shortlist?

Spartacus Chetwynd

Lali Chetwynd was born and bred in London and changed her name to Spartacus - in a tribute to the Roman gladiator - in 2006. The 38-year-old is best known for her work as a performance artist, having created theatre which blurs the boundaries between performer and spectator. She encompasses a variety of art forms into her work and designs and makes the costumes and sets for her theatre. 

Chetwynd is nominated for her solo "exhibition" Odd Man Out which was at Sadie Coles HQ in London last year. Her work consisted of a five-hour theatre performance using puppetry and exploring the themes of democracy, political disengagement and the right and responsibility of voting. 

Luke Fowler

Glaswegian Luke Fowler focuses on film making. The 34-year-old has made a series of films looking at public figures who he is particularly fascinated by. He made a trilogy of films about the life of psychiatrist RD Laing, the third of which, All Divided Selves, premiered at Inverleith House in Edinburgh last year. In 2006 he released the film Pilgrimage from Scattered Points about the Scottish composer Cornelius Cardew. Both men are seen to be on the fringes of society.

Fowler is nominated for his work exhibited at Inverleith House, including the film All Divided Selves, 50 new photographs in his Two Frames photo series, and the installation Ridges on a Horizontal Plane.

Paul Noble

Paul Noble, who was born in Northumberland, now lives and works in London and is one of the five founding members of the influential artists' space, City Racing. The 38-year-old is best known for his depictions of the fictional dystopian metropolis Nobson Newton, which he has worked on for the past 16 years.

Noble is nominated for the continuation of his Nobson Newton drawings, exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery in London. The exhibition included his centrepiece, a seven-metre wide drawing across 20 sheets of paper which took him four years to create. The settlements he depicts are famous for resembling human turds.

Elizabeth Price

45-year-old Elizabeth Price encorporates moving image, text and music in her work. Her films focus on still objects and explore our relationsip with materialism. Price, who is originally from Bradford but now lives in London, is famous for her film West Hinder 2012, which was inspired by the sinking of a cargo ship in 2002 with nearly 3,000 luxury cars on board. The soundtrack to the film consisted of technical vocabulary from the cars' instruction manuals and marketing information.

Price, who used to be in the 1980s pop group Talulah Gosh, is nominated for her trilogy of installations at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

The winner of the Turner Prize 2012 will be announced on 3 December 2012 at Tate Britain.

A still from Luke Fowler's film All Divided Selves. Photo by The Modern Institute/Tony Webster Ltd
Show Hide image

Mumslink shows how online parenting networks are coming of age

Women online are changing the relationship between digital domesticity and digital independence. 

The habit of “speaking as a mother” came in for its fair share of criticism this summer. Andrea Leadsom’s insinuation of superiority over Theresa May, her rival for the Tory leadership, elicited widespread scorn – not least from those who have done most to strengthen the voice of mothers as a group: internet mums.

Over the past 15 years, the ten million users a month who log on to Mumsnet have been courted by politicians in webchats and speeches alike. The 2010 general election was even named “the Mumsnet election” in their honour.

From the start, parenting networks attracted users interested in comradeship, as much as those after information. 

For Jo Williamson, a mother-of-two, the trigger was the day her second child left for school, a jarring experience. “I went into a blind panic, thinking: ‘Blimey, I’m going to be sitting in an empty house just waiting for everybody to come back.’” In response, Jo and her business partner Jane Pickard came up with the idea for a new site that focuses on the fluid nature of many women’s professional and family lives.

The resulting network, Mumslink, uses carefully edited news feeds to introduce readers to ideas, businesses and charities that complement all aspects of their lives – from recipe tips to volunteering. “There are so many women out there with a plethora of talents but most of the time, because you’re with your children, nobody asks you to get involved,” Williamson says.

Similar feelings of isolation led Siobhan Freegard to found Netmums, one of the UK’s largest parenting sites. Back in 2000, she had barely heard of “social networks”, nor of Mumsnet, which launched around the same time, yet she knew that mothers needed a place “to share their stories and maybe meet up in the offline world, too”.

Such identity-building led to divisions over “the right way” to be a mother. A tense rivalry developed between the slightly younger Netmums and the more educated and affluent Mumsnetters (Tesco and Waitrose didn’t sponsor different networks for nothing). Within the sites’ pages, differences of opinion over working v stay-at-home parenting sparked allegations of hostility and bullying. Still, the media researcher Sarah Pedersen says there’s an argument that these sites have helped produce a reduction in depression and anxiety, as well as greater opportunities for women to negotiate “the tension between themselves and their role as mothers”.

There are signs that this online culture is growing up. The perception of mums as “a bit insular and thick” is more easily countered, says Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet, “now that so many mothers are able to express their individuality, their interests and their expertise in the public domain”.

According to Freegard, the very act of online sharing has helped begin to repair the rifts within the parenting debate. “With social media, we see working mums and part-time mums, and we see mums changing roles as their children change ages, and we understand that there are different angles to things – that everyone has their story.”

This is more pronounced in the world of video blogging, Freegard says. On her YouTube channel, Channel Mum, people talk calmly about controversial subjects that would have been a “bloodbath” on Netmums, such as ear piercing for very young children. “With video, you can see the person in real life and that helps you feel for their story,” she says.

Perhaps the greatest effect, however, has been on how the internet allows parents to work from home. As many as 160,000 part-time ventures have been started by British women in the past two years alone, self-styled kitchen-table start-ups. Sites such as Mumslink (similarly funded by Williamson and Pickard and run out of the former’s front room in Hertfordshire) aim to help this home-based workforce with new clients. One Mumslinker visits the site to write about her own line of natural nail varnish, another to promote her hot-tub business. The company Digital Mums uses it to encourage women to expand their digital skills.

Commercial savvy is something that Freegard is also keen to develop at Channel Mum – equipping her contributors with financial advice and small stipends. “I remember looking at mummy bloggers and thinking, ‘You guys didn’t get properly organised,’” she says. Freegard points out that most early mum bloggers never grew their audience beyond those already involved in parenting online, and struggled to become more professional as a result.

Quite what the future relationships will be between the brands, businesses and audiences for information on parenting has yet to be established. Some users will baulk at being increasingly cast in the role of consumer. At the same time, the networks’ names – Mumsnet, Netmums, Mumslink, Channel Mum – suggest that parenting is still a woman’s domain.

Yet a better balance seems to be emerging in the relationship between digital domesticity and digital independence. Greater gender equality in the distribution of start-up funding, more job vacancies that allow flexible working, and increasing numbers of prominent women in the tech industry are just some of the things the community is striving to promote. In Britain, which has an ageing population and an ever-growing community of carers, the rise of these networks seems sure to be a net gain for us all. 

For more, visit: mumslink.com

India Bourke is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron: the legacy of a loser