The Turnip Prize is a spoof UK award satirising the Tate Gallery's Turner Prize by rewarding deliberately bad modern art. It was started as a joke in 1999, but gained national media attention and inspired similar prizes. Credit is given for entries containing bad puns as titles, displaying "lack of effort" or "is it shit?". Conversely, entries with "too much effort" or "not shit enough" are immediately disqualified. The first prize is a turnip nailed to a block of wood.
Conceived in 1999 by management and regulars of The George Hotel (now in the New Inn), Wedmore, Somerset after the exhibition of Tracey Emin's My Bed won the Turner Prize. It is organised by Trevor Prideaux. Announced as, "The Turnip Prize is a crap art competition ... You can enter anything you like, but it must be rubbish." The competition is based on the supposition, "We know it's rubbish, but is it art?". Competitors submitted entries of ridiculous objects posing as contemporary art, mostly made from junk titled with spoofs or puns. The prize is a turnip impaled on a rusty six-inch nail.
In 2001, the competition was held in the public conveniences in Wedmore.
In 2002, the "Monster Raving Loony Party" attempted to hijack the competition at The Trotter, Crickham, Wedmore.
In 2003, the winner was James Timms with Take a Leaf out of My Chook, an exhibit of a raw chicken stuffed with leaves. . James Timms subsequently appeared on BBC radio Scotland's Fred Macaulay Show with Ed Byrne.
In 2005, Ian Osenthroat, a 69-year-old former photocopier salesman, won with the exhibit Birds Flew, a bird's nest with a flu remedy box. He commented satirically, "I have entered this most coveted art award on several occasions and I really feel that the lack of effort this year has really paid off."
Winner in 2006 was Ian Lewis with the exhibit Torn Beef, an empty corned beef can. He stated, "The work took no time at all to create." Trevor Prideaux commented, "I believe that over the last seven years the bad artists of Wedmore and surrounding areas have created far better works than Nicholas Serota and The Tate Britain Gallery could ever wish to exhibit." Also in 2006, the BBC's Chief Somerset Correspondent, Clinton Rogers, was immortalised as Clint on a Row of Jars.
In 2007, the competition gained more publicity with the entry of artwork with the title By the Banksea. The painting bears a striking resemblance to work by the famous Bristol graffiti artist Banksy and its origins are likrwise a closely guarded secret. By the Banksea portrays a seaside Aunt Sally in the form of a stencil of the Mona Lisa, but in true Banksy-style, Mona Lisa is depicted holding a rocket launcher firing a turnip over the wreckage of a seaside pier and an emergency exit sign. Competition organiser Trevor Prideaux commented: "It does seem to be in Banksy's style. But someone has thought too much about this one and tried too hard. So for that reason it's not likely to win." The piece was duly disqualified for "too much effort, and not shit enough." The 2007 competition was won by Bracey Vermin with Tea P, a group of used tea bags in the shape of a letter P.
Competition entries for 2010 included "Ivor Crush"'s clothes hanger linking the letter U in "Crush", entitled "Hung up on You", and an entry by Banksy, which focused on the recent student protests of the day.
Entries for 2011 included a piece of cheese carved into the letter E, entitled CheeseE, a fish full of dollars. Exhibit of an Action Man toy – called "First Class Mail" – with a carefully placed stamp and a coloured rock called "Half a Stone Lighter". This year's Prize featured on the BBC's Have I Got News For You for two weeks running.
Also featured in The Boston Globe, BBC World Service - Russia.
Winners and shortlisted artists
This list is nearly complete
- 1999 – David Stone (Baker), winner – Alfred The Grate (two burned rolls on a fire grate)
- David Gannon (British Airways worker) – Sharp Infested Waters (a jar of water filled with needles, razors and knives)
- Neil Ellis – Soiled Serviette (a comment on a crumpled piece of paper)
- Iain Jones - Half Cut (a saw and a piece of wood cut halfway through with a bottle of beer nearby)
- Maureen Hodge (Pub Landlady) – Laundry Day Tracey (a neat pile of clean sheets)
- 2000 – Jacqui Redman (Care Worker, age 30), winner – Minstrel Cycle (a bicycle constructed of sweets, cocktail sticks and Tampons)
- Jenny Vining (Midwife, age 21+) – Cereal Killer (cereal packets with bullet holes in them)
- Kerry Bobbett (Trainee Graphic Designer, age 19) – Wind In The Willows (a tin of beans in a Wicker basket)
- Sue Smith (age 50+) – Surf In The Net (a box of washing powder in a net)
- 2001 - Chloe Wilson, winner - nothing (which was literally nothing)
- 2002 - Jenny Vining (Midwife), winner - Piston Broke (a broken piston mounted onto a block of wood)
- Dick Stelling (Landlord, age 69) - A Bit on the Side (a horse's bit on its side)
- James Timms (Trapeeze artist) - Privot Investigator (a privet bush and magnifying glass)
- 2003 – James Timms (long-distance unicyclist, age 26), winner – Take a Leaf out of my Chook (A raw chicken stuffed with leaves)
- Di Vorce Bitter and Twisted (a piece of grapefruit peel)
- Jonny Wilkinson Jonny Wilkinson (a Condom and a Razor Blade)
- Polly Ethylene What a Waste (a Sculpture of Plumbing Pipes)
- 2004 - Pearl E Queen (former chimney sweep aged 99), winner - Jellied Deal (a jelly with a hand of playing cards set into it)
- Alan Kieda Camp X Ray (a Collage of Camp Images) disqualified
- Claire Prior Half a Stone Lighter
- Ian Lewis Light Lunch (a Sculpture using China, Paper, Steel and Glass)
- 2005 – Ian Osenthroat (former photocopier salesman, age 69), winner – Birds Flew (An empty birds' nest with a flu remedy)
- Ian Lewis Political Promises (An Empty Jar)
- The Mysterious Baker Half Baked (Baked Bread in the Shape of 1/2)
- Robert Baby Leakin' Wellington (A Leak protruding out of a Wellington Boot)
- The Sisters Incognito The Hand of Time (A papier-mâché sculpture of a clock face)
- 2006 – Ian Lewis (Iron Man) winner – Torn Beef (empty corned beef can)
- Ham Sweet Ham (disqualified) (a framed picture containing two slices of ham and a boiled sweet)
- Beyond the Pale
- Captain's Log
- Clinton Rogers (BBC's Chief Somerset Correspondent) – Clint on a Row of Jars
- Cracked Pot (a broken plant pot)
- Medium Steak (a medium-sized wooden stake)
- The Second Coming
- 2007 – Bracey Vermin – (Jam Maker) - Tea P (Used tea bags in the shape of a P), Winner.
- Mary Leftley – Thyme Flies (Dead flies in a hexagonal jar with Thyme), Very highly commended.
- Mr Fezzy Wig – Pair o' dice Lost (A map of Scotland with dice), Very highly commended.
- John Squires – Mints Meet (A mincemeat jar containing a polo mint and an extra strong mint), Very highly commended.
- Isaac Hasumoff – Fly in Saucer (A saucer with a dead fly), 2007 Special Award. Judges considered that this was an exceptional lack of effort. However, the fly can not be considered rubbish (it is not recyclable unless ingested by a spider).
- 2008 - Ivor Pranced -(Farmer) - Fleeced (A Piece of Sheeps Wool Depicting John Sergeant), Winner
- 2009 - Frank Van Bough - (Sports Presenter) - Manhole Cover (A Pair of White Y Fronts), Winner
- Clinton Rogers - Croc of Gold - (A Croc Shoe Painted Gold)
- Bjorn Toolate - The Swinging Six Teas - (A Coat Hanger with Six Tea Bags Swimming from it)
- Sue Shi - Knickless Cage - (A Wire Cage containing Naked Barbie Dolls)
- Mary Christmas - Noddy Holder - (A Noddy Bucket)
- Aunt Sponge - Shi Tart - (A Tart with the letters SHI in it)
- 2010 - Doug Pitt - (Gold Digger) - Chilli 'n' Minors - (one large chilli and three smaller chilli's) Winner
- Aunt Sponge - Elfin Safety - (A builders' hard hat with elf ears on it)
- Gill Adams - It's Marge - (I can't believe it's not butter container with Marge Simpson in it)
- Jo Hill - Polish Worker - (A duster[clarification needed])
- New Blood - A Leg Up - (An old table leg stood on its end)
- Sarah Quick - Brief Encounter - (An abacus with a pair of pants over it)
- 2011 - Jim Drew - (Bush Trimmer) - Jamming with Muddy Waters (a Jar containing Jam and some Muddy Water) Winner
- Granny Abuse - Fish Full of Dollars - (a fish stuffed full of dollars)
- Mr Fezziwig - Half a Stone Lighter - (a stone with one half lighter in colour than the other side)
- Aunt Sponge - Children in Mead - (a bottle of mead with lots of dolls in it)
- Andy Gould - CheesE - (a piece of cheese cut into an "E" shape)
- Team GB - First Class Mail - (an action man toy with a first class stamp placed over his penis)
- 2012 - Miss Quick - (Midwife) - The Three Tenors - (A pack of Lady Tenas with three sticking out) Winner
- Andy Robinson - A Limpet Torch - (A Torch with Limpets attached to it)
- Asif - Arab Spring - (A Large Spring dressed as an Arab)
- Kelly Jones - S'not Art - (A Crumpled Tissue)
- Harold Stone - Stone He Broke - (A Stone Broken in Two)
- James Standon - Bread in Captivity - (A Loaf of Bread in a Pet Carrying Cage)
- Mike Atkinson - Children in Knead - (A Lump of Dough with Children in it)
- 2013 - Percy Long-Prong - (Former Chauffeur) - "Play on Words" - (A Shakespeare Play on top of a Dictionary) Winner
- Chris McKinley - "Slightly Open" - (A Jar)
- Hugh Grant - "Brookes Hair Hacked" - (A pile of Red Wood Shavings)
- Tony Edmunds - "Flower Power" - (A Flower and a Battery)
- Cobbsy - "The Hobbit" - (A Ring off the Top of a Cooker)
- Guido Barbato - "Smarty Pants" - (Pants coming out of a smarty Tube)
- 2014 - Ms Drunken Shepherd - (Shepherdess) - "Ewe Kip" - (A Sleeping Sheep) Winner
- Abby - "Gogglebox" - (An Empty Box of Goggles)
- Leafy - "Pensive" - (A Pen and Sieve)
- Aunt Sponge - "Stick another Shrimp on the Barbie" - (Barbie doll with shrimps stuck on it)
- Trees R Green - "Ginger Nut" - (A Walnut with Ginger Hair)
- Mike Anderson - "Breast in Plant" - (Breasts in bedded in a plant)
Many independent "Turnip Prize" competitions are now held around the world, with differing rules made up by those who are running the competitions. Competitions generally aspire to concept, "We know it's rubbish, but is it art?" and competitors submit entries made from junk with titles that are nonsensical or puns. Marks are awarded for amusement and lack of effort, and competitors are frequently disqualified for applying too much effort. In 2001, The Sun tabloid newspaper featured its own Turnip Prize.
In 2002 "The Turnip Award" was opened annually for students at Edinburgh College of Art to "carve or design something out of the humble vegetable". The 2005 prize was a mountain bike. In 2005 a Turnip Prize was staged at St Paul's Gallery in Tower Hamlets, London for local residents.
Notes and references
- "Chicken sculpture scoops 'Turnip Prize'". BBC News (01 December 2003). Retrieved 08 January 2007.
- Ananova (2003)"Unicyclist wins Turnip Prize for rubbish art" Daily Times (Pakistan). (05 December 2003). Retrieved 09 January 2007.
- "Bird's nest awarded Turnip Prize". BBC News (06 December 2005). Retrieved 08 January 2007.
- "And this year's prize turnip is ... Ian Lewis!". Weston & Somerset Mercury (11 December 20060. Retrieved 09 January 2006.
- "Turnip Prize 2006" BBC Somerset (01 December 2006). Retrieved 30 January 2007.
- Turnip Prize entries compete for top bad art accolade (slideshow). BBC News Somerset (26 November 2010). Retrieved 30 November 2010.
- Turnip Prize bad art contest finalists are revealed. BBC News Somerset (26 November 2011). Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- Turnip Prize 2012. London Art News (02 December 2012). Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- "Somerset woman wins Turnip prize". ITV West Country. (03 December 2012). Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- "Taking the pee: 'The Three Tenas' crap art prize winner really is pants". Daily Mirror (03 December 2012). Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- "Turnip Prize triumph for Sarah". thisisthewestcountry.co.uk (06 December 2012). Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- "2012 Turnip Prize art award winner announced". Western Daily Press (05 December 2012). Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- "Turnip Prize: See the winner and finalists in Somerset's bad art contest". BBC News Somerset (02 December 2013). Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- "Winner of Turnip Prize revealed". ITV West Country (02 December 2013). Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- "'Play on words' wins top spot at Somerset's Turnip Prize awards!". Burnham-On-Sea.com (02 December 2013). Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- Jennifer Smith (21 November 2013). "Is this the WORST British art has to offer? Spoof 'Turnip Prize' showcases a total lack of talent (and just a touch of satire)". MailOnline. Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- Ruth Ovens (26 November 2013). Cheddar Valley: Turnip Prize 2013 finalists. Cheddar Valley Gazette. Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- cfayfineran (03 December 2013). 'Turnip Prize' showcases an impressive lack of talent. Western Daily Press. Retrieved 01 August 2014.
- Spanton, Tim (2001) "It's the Turnip Prize" The Sun (UK) online. Accessed 8 January 2007
- "Edinburgh College of Art Turnip Prize" www.tuco.org, November 2004. Accessed 8 January 2007
- "Artists turnip in their droves" The Scotsman, 28 October 2005. Accessed 9 January 2007
- "Turnip heads the art world" East End Life, 15 August 2006. Accessed 8 January 2007
- Barker, Godfrey (1998) "Back to school, and no virgins" Evening Standard, 8 July 1998. Accessed on findarticles.com, 9 January 2007