Three women dominate this year's Turner Prize shortlist, traditionally one of the most controversial in British art, announced earlier today.

Four artists -Runa Islam, Goshka Macuga, Cathy Wilkes and Mark Leckey - were selected to contest the award, which is open to British artists under the age of 50. The top prize is £25,000($49,000).

Mr Leckey has used characters from the US cartoon series The Simpsons in his work while Ms Wilkes uses shop mannequins in many of her installations.

Only three women have previously won the Turner Prize since it was created in 1984.

The four sculptors and visual artists now have six months to select works for an exhibition at the Tate Britain gallery in London before the winner is chosen on December 1st.

Last year's winner was Mark Wallinger, whose installation at Tate Liverpool in north-west England included a video of himself walking around a gallery after closing time dressed as a bear.

He won the prize for his recreation of the makeshift peace camp of an anti-Iraq war protester outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

Critics have argued for years about whether The Modern art award, which is billed as one of Europe's most prestigious for visual arts, puts too much emphasis on hype over talent.

Previous winners have included Damien Hirst, who won it in 1995 with pieces including a rotting cow's head complete with maggots and flies and Chris Ofilie, who incorporated elephant dung into all his paintings in 1998.

13/05/2008 14:47:54