LONDON (Reuters) - In a gesture of unity at what they called a time of political crisis, four British artists broke with tradition by choosing to share the 2019 Turner Prize.

The nominees for the country's most prestigious award for young artists - Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani - made their request in a letter to judges ahead of Tuesday evening's ceremony in the southeastern coastal town of Margate.

"At this time of political crisis in Britain and much of the world... we feel strongly motivated to use the occasion of the prize to make a collective statement," they wrote.

The panel agreed they should split the 40,000 pound prize - awarded annually for an outstanding exhibition by an artist born or working in Britain - equally.

The spirit of collectivity was also in evidence at this year's Booker Prize for English-language fiction, which was jointly awarded to Canadian Margaret Atwood and Briton Bernardine Evaristo in October.

(Reporting by John Stonestreetl Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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