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Ulster University PhD Researchers and Alumni in the Array Collective have been crowned winner of the prestigious Turner Prize 2021.

Array Collective is a group of Belfast-based artists who create collaborative actions in response to issues affecting Northern Ireland with recent projects including public artworks in support of the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

Judges praised the group for addressing social and political issues in Northern Ireland, and for translating their activism into artwork.

Of the Array Collective members, Emma Campbell and Alessia Cargnelli are PhD Researchers at Ulster University, while Laura O’Connor, Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell, Jane Butler, Clodagh Lavelle and Stephen Millar are Ulster University alumni.

The award was presented by singer Pauline Black at Coventry Cathedral on Wednesday evening during a live BBC broadcast. The Array Collective beat four other collectives to take the £25,000 prize.

Jury chair and Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson said:

What the jury feels is remarkable is that kind of amazing lightness of touch and play and conviviality and sense of hospitality, and the sense of carnival that they bring to the work. What they deal with is really serious stuff, LGBT issues, feminist perspectives on issues today in a divided society, even a sectarian society.

Research Director for Art & Design at Ulster University, Dr Brian Dixon commented:

“We are immensely proud of the Array Collective and the contribution that our PhD Researchers and graduates have made on securing the Turner Prize 2021. The Array Collective is such an inspiration to our students and to all of us. It is fantastic they won as a collective and their partnership approach to using art as a means of effecting social change is truly commendable. We can’t wait to invite them back to the Belfast School of Art.”

Head of Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art, Louise O’Boyle said:

“Our entire school community, past and present, is beyond delighted to see Array Collective win this year’s Turner Prize. Their intelligent, honest and excellently crafted collective responses to key political and social issues here in Northern Ireland focus attention on what needs to be discussed within our society.”

The first Northern Irish artists ever to collect the award, Array Collective described their win as "surreal" and said they would put the money towards the rent for their inner-city studio.

A free exhibition displaying their work and that of the other four shortlisted collectives is being displayed at The Herbert Art Gallery & Music in Coventry - the UK's City of Culture - until 12 January 2022.

The Turner Prize aims to promote discussions around new developments in contemporary British Art and is one of the world’s most famous prizes for the visual arts.