THE Aesthetica Art Prize returns to York St Mary's this spring with eight shortlisted finalists awaiting the announcement of the winner on Thursday.

Competing for the main prize will be Sybille Neumeyer' s installation Song For The Last Queen; Ines Molina Navea's photographic series 541 Dias; Deb Covell's Black And White Paintings; and Ingrid Hu's 3-D design Longplayer.

In the student prize section will be Julia Weissenberg's video There Is No Real Way Of Knowing; Amedeo Abello and Federico Morando photographic and digital art entry, Life/File; Harriet Lewars' three- dimensional sculpture Frustrum Super Planum Cum Filia Lyrae; and Elke Finkenauer's painting Draw A Line Somewhere.

All eight will be attending that night's exhibition launch from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, travelling from as far afield as Germany, Chile, Italy and New Zealand, as well as Britain.

The winner of the Main Prize receives £1,000, six months' studio space, courtesy of the Thomas & Paul Gallery, art supplies courtesy of Winsor & Newton, and a collection of art books from Prestel. The Student Prize wins £500, art mentoring sessions, courtesy of the Thomas & Paul Gallery, art supplies courtesy of Winsor & Newton, and a collection of art books from Prestel.

The prize event is organised by Aesthetica Magazine, the international art and culture publication edited in York, in partnership with York Museums Trust, and provides a platform for emerging contemporary artists from across the world to bring their work to a wider audience.

"Taking place in York St Mary’s, York Art Gallery’s contemporary art space, the exhibition reframes the relationship between the historic and the contemporary by uniting the international rising stars of the art world in a major group show," says Aesthetica editor and Art Prize director Cherie Federico. "This is a very exciting show; I feel the work is exceptional and it conveys so many different themes."

Last year’s inaugural exhibition welcomed 10,000 visitors in seven weeks; this year’s show has been extended to 12 weeks and features innovative pieces from the shortlisted artists in a variety of categories: photographic and digital art; three-dimensional design and sculpture; painting and drawing, and video, installation and performance.

"The works take 2014’s exhibition to a new level, with many of the artists re-defining the boundaries of their medium; paint becomes a sculptural tool, brass an interactive musical installation and drawing is lifted into three dimensional reality," says Cherie.

“We were thrilled with last year’s exhibition, which laid the foundations, and this year's event is pushing the boundaries of subject and content further. Once again it's a rare opportunity and a privilege to have the chance to view so many engaging and compelling works that comment so profoundly on life in the 21st century. I'm delighted that through the Aesthetica Art Prize, we're able to connect artists to a wider audience and contribute to current discussions in contemporary art.”

From more than 3,000 entries, eight artists have been selected for the exhibition with a further 92 exhibiting work on the monitors within the gallery.

"The works address social and environmental issues, memory and history, identity and overall interrogate and play with form," says Cherie. "They're stimulating, vibrant and inspirational and will engage on many levels and create a platform for further conversation."

Janet Barnes, York Museums Trust's chief executive, says: "I'm delighted at, once again, having a truly international exhibition of contemporary art coming to York St Mary's. This chance to see some of the best of the new in art further enriches the development of our contemporary art programme."

Several events will run alongside this year’s Art Prize, ranging from free lunchtime talks and art walks to activities for young people and families. All 100 artists’ works will be available to view in the Aesthetica Art Prize publication, on sale at the exhibition, online and at select galleries nationwide.

The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, a presentation of shortlisted works from eight contemporary artists, will run at York St Mary's, Coppergate, York, from April 4 to June 22.

Video: Chris Parker