Life-size paper mache people which mingled with rail commuters travelling to the Kent coast are among the nominees for this year’s Turner Prize.
Travellers on a Southeastern service from London to Margate earlier this week were surprised to see that fellow “passengers” were in fact scarecrow-like creations by a renowned artist.
They were being transported to Margate to form part of Oscar Murillo’s multimedia look into the nature of globalism and capitalism.
Works by four artists have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize, one of the most eagerly anticipated visual arts prizes in the world.
The art went on display on Thursday at Margate’s Turner Contemporary gallery, built on the site of a house JMW Turner used to stay.
This year’s shortlisted art draws influences from around the world, from Colombia to Derry to Syria.
Murillo’s paper mache figures are said to represent “a mobile and globalised workforce”, and the hay-stuffed models have links to New Year’s Eve tradition in his homeland of Colombia.
Curator Fiona Parry said: “It shows the darkness of the political moment in the UK and globally [and] the rhetoric around migration.”
Inspiration for the work stemmed from a flight Murillo took from Tel Aviv to Baku, during which he discovered there was a dead body in the hold and the plane had to reroute to avoid flying over Syria.
Also nominated is Beirut-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, renowned for his work using sound effects to explore society as people perceive it.
His shortlisted work features a look at Saydanya, a prison in Syria where inmates suffered torture.
Curator Rowan Geddy said: “[It features] powerful quotes from former detainees about the torture they suffered and how artists use everyday objects to recreate the sounds made there.”
Helen Cammock’s work looks at the role of women in the civil rights movement that began in Northern Ireland in 1968, including Derry.
Her film “The Long Note” connects the movement with broader issues in Ireland such as class, race and gender, set in the context of the Troubles.
Ms Parry said: “It’s not an A-Z of what happened in the Troubles it’s a creative response.
“The politics of the film are still certainly felt today.”
The final shortlisted artist is Tai Shani, whose “DC:Semiramis” feminist science fiction work explores an alternative reality.
The dark and fantastical worlds visible in her piece are supposed to show a “radical vision” of the future born of an alternative past.
The exhibition will be held from September 28 to January 12 at Turner Contemporary in Margate.
The winner will be announced on 3 December at an award ceremony shown live on the BBC.
Since opening in 2011, Turner Contemporary in Margate has generated more than £70million for the local economy, led to the opening of over 150 new businesses and attracted over 3.3 million visits.