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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Turner Prize 2001: The artists

The Coral Reef 2000 by Mike Nelson
The four-strong shortlist for the 2001 Turner Prize has been unveiled. BBC News Online looks at the nominees.

Richard Billingham

The most well-known of the nominees, he was born in Birmingham in 1970.

He did a degree in painting at Sunderland University, after 16 other colleges rejected him.

He began taking photographs of his family as source material for paintings but the photographs soon took prominence.

Snapshots of his family in their stark tower block flat were unflinching and unflattering portraits.

The photos were exhibited in their own right in galleries and are now in the collections of Saatchi, Rockefeller or the New York Metropolitan Museum, while he has had one-man shows in Milan, Paris, Los Angeles, Frankfurt and Rome.

"It is not my intention to shock, offend, sentimentalise, be political or otherwise - only to make work that is as spiritually meaningful as I can make it, whatever the medium," Billingham has said.

His rise to prominence came quickly. In 1996 Michael Collins, picture editor of the Sunday Telegraph magazine, published his pictures in a book, Ray's A Laugh, at the insistence of a university contact.

Martin Creed

Martin Creed
Creed was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1968 and his style has been to use every day objects in his work.

It is his occasional use of rubbish in his work - hardly an unusual motif - that will probably have some modern art detractors foaming at the mouth.

To add fuel to their fire, Creed has said in the past that his works are concerned with "nothing in particular", which is hardly likely to endear him to many.

He deploys objects such as doorstops, metronomes, tiles, masking tape, elastoplast and balloons in his work.

Isaac Julien

A film-maker and cultural critic, Julien studied at St. Martin's School of Art and his videos have been shown at the Tate Britain, London, Museum of Modern Art Oxford and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston among other places.

He has long had a strong reputation abroad but his work has not been that well known in the UK.

He was born in 1960, in Bow, London, and has been described as being among the first wave of Black independent film makers.

His work often deals with the breaking down of racial and sexual stereotypes.

His films, videos and installations have been shown at the ICA, London, the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, and at art cinemas around the world.

In 1989 he directed a Channel 4 documentary Looking for Langston.

His work - in common with the other nominees - blurs the boundaries between cinema, painting, video and photography.

Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson was born in Loughborough in 1967 and studied at Reading University, and Chelsea College of Art & Design, London.

An installation artist, he creates false environments, which are loaded with fictional and historical, cultural and social references.

His work has a deceptive almost illusory quality, and his themes are often alienation.

"Art is a belief system, the same as heroin or Islam or the biker gang or the stoners or the failed Mexican revolutionaries," he has said.

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30 May 01 | Arts
Vote: Turner Prize
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