Two Halifax-based artists are among the five Atlantic Canadians who have been long-listed for the 2008 Sobey Art Award — one of the largest prizes of its kind in Canada.

“I was surprised, and it was a pleasant surprise,” said Tonia Di Risio, who is nominated along with NSCAD University instructor Craig Leonard.

They, along with Moncton-based artist Mario Doucette, Newfoundland-based Craig Francis Power and New Brunswick-based Andrea Mortson, are nominated for the $50,000 prize, which is given to an artist under 40.

The long list also includes five artists from each of four other Canadian regions: the West Coast and Yukon, the Prairies and the North, Ontario, and Quebec.

Di Risio said she was approached by a curator to submit work for the annual prize. She submitted a package featuring previously made work, and projects she is currently working on.

“It hasn’t yet registered,” said the 36-year-old mixed-media artist, who is currently involved in a residency at the Centre For Art Tapes.

“The Sobey award is something that is quite well known in the contemporary art world.”