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Art world welcomes and validates some 46 fresh talents in a prestigious group show at the ICA

As 76-year old Michael Simpson picked up the John Moores painting prize, at this year’s Liverpool Biennial, many younger talents were also in town. Bloomberg New Contemporaries, which opened at the Bluecoat, gathered 46 new and recent graduates. From late November, it will be possible to see these arrivistes in London as the much talked about exhibition tours to the ICA.

What this snapshot from Merseyside indicates is you’re never too old, or too young, to make a splash in the art world. Indeed, graduating artists attract much more attention than graduating accountants, as the feeding frenzy surrounding summer degree shows proves year after year.

So it matters not that, unless you’re a friend, a relative or a tutor, you won’t recognise the names at New Contemporaries. But you may recognise some of them some day. As little as he might have needed the encouragement Damien Hirst was once a New Contemporary. New Contemporaries have had retrospectives at the Tate (Mona Hartoum), shows in the British Pavilion in Venice (Mike Nelson) and won Turner Prizes (Laure Provost).

The selection panel also bring an element of stardust to the proceedings. This year selectors are all 'hot' artists in their own right: Anya Gallaccio, Alan Kane and Haroon Mirza have enough youthful energy to inspire confidence among recent grads, along with the wider gallery going public..

The task of choosing and curating near to 50 fledgling talents must have been enormous. But for the honour bestowed and company joined, there can be no doubt of the value of this piece of early recognition. After all, artists, unlike accountants, don’t benefit from lucrative graduate trainee schemes or retirement packages. Just ask Michael Simpson.

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