Project Art Works (PAW), a collective of neuro-diverse artists and activists in Hastings, has had its artwork selected as one of five
entries on a short list for the Turner Prize 2021.

Previous winners of the Prize, the most prestigious annual award on the British art calendar, include Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. First prize nets the sum of £25,000, with £5,000 paid to other finalists. However, the media attention garnered by those short-listed, and especially by the winner, gives the Turner a much greater celebrity value.

Part of the Project Art Works Collective,
Hastings Contemporary, May 2021
PICTURE: Project Art Works

Carl Sexton, Untitled, 2016, acrylic on fabriano, 151cm x 529cm
PICTURE: Project Art Works

All five artists in line for the prize this year are collective groups. In a year when physical exhibitions could not be held because of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, the seven-person Prize jury praised PAW’s continuing work through the pandemic, both online and in a residency at the Hastings Contemporary art gallery at the Stade, where passers-by could still encounter work by the collective through its closed windows. 

Artist, co-founder and CEO  Rachel Adams confirms that PAW has not only survived but indeed flourished with necessary adjustments online or with Covid-safe flexible programmes, closing its nexus of studios under the railway arch at Braybrooke Terrace for a few weeks from March 2020, but reopening in June and keeping productive since then. The collective comprises around 40 adult artists, gives peer support to at least 60, and involves up to 100 children over the course of a year. Started in 1997, it will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. 

In the realm of others, De La Warr Pavilion, 2015 – Installation
PICTURE: Project Art Works

Studio B, 2020
PICTURE: Project Art Works

Ms Adams is delighted with the recognition which the jury has given the enterprise. “It’s a real gift to neuro-minorities”, she says, “recognition that they matter, and have a place in art and culture”.

PAW will now put a display together as part of a Turner Prize exhibition which will open at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry in September this year. The winner will be announced there on 1st December. 

Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain and Chair of the Prize jury said: “The Turner Prize gives everyone a chance to see some of the most exciting art being made today, and it offers all the artists involved a unique platform for their work”.

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