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.
The prize (now awarded in the New Inn) was conceived in 1999 by management and regulars of The George Hotel, Wedmore, Somerset, after the exhibition of Tracey Emin's My Bed was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. It is organised by Trevor Prideaux and was announced thus: "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 likewise 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, and an 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.
2012 – 87 entries.
2013 – 69 entries, which included entries from Ireland, Italy, Paris, and the USA.
2014 – 69 entries, which included entries from Canada, USA, Germany, and Italy.
2015 – 69 entries, which included entries from France, Czech Republic, Norway, and Macedonia.
2016 – 99 entries, which included entries from Brisbane, Australia (delivered by hand), Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Lundy.
2017 – 100 entries, which included entries from Guernsey and Germany.
2018 – 90 entries, which included entries from Australia (arrived broken in 69 pieces) and Antigua
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)
- 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 (trapeze 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, age 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 ½)
- Robert Baby – Leakin' Wellington (a leek protruding from 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 (an empty corned beef can)
- 2007 – Bracey Vermin (jam maker), winner – Tea P (used tea bags in the shape of a P)
- Mary Leftley, very highly commended – Thyme Flies (dead flies in a hexagonal jar with thyme)
- Mr Fezzy Wig, very highly commended – Pair o' dice Lost (a map of Scotland with dice)
- John Squires, very highly commended – Mints Meet (a mincemeat jar containing a polo mint and an extra strong mint)
- 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 cannot be considered rubbish (it is not recyclable unless ingested by a spider)."
- 2008 – Ivor Pranced (farmer), winner – Fleeced (a piece of sheep's wool depicting John Sergeant)
- 2009 – Frank Van Bough (sports presenter), winner – Manhole Cover (a pair of white Y-fronts)
- Clinton Rogers – Croc of Gold (a Croc shoe painted gold)
- Bjorn Toolate – The Swinging Six Teas (a coat-hanger with six tea bags hanging 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), winner – Chilli 'n' Minors (one large chilli and three smaller chillies)
- 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 or cleaning cloth)
- 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), winner – Jamming with Muddy Waters (a jar containing jam and some muddy water)
- 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), winner – The Three Tenors (a pack of Lady Tenas with three sticking out)
- 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), winner – Play on Words (a Shakespeare play on top of a dictionary)
- 2014 – Ms Drunken Shepherd (shepherdess), winner – Ewe Kip (a sleeping sheep)
- 2015 – Bonksy (rocket scientist), winner – Dismal And (the symbol "&" looking dismal)
- P.Enfold – Danger Mouse (a computer mouse with an electrical warning sticker on it)
- Art Ist – Staple Diet (a galvanised staple on a plate)
- Asif – A Clean Slate (a piece of slate with nothing on it)
- Pat McGroin – Hung like a Donkey (a donkey hanging on a rope)
- Imogen Crees – A Roll in the Hay (a bread roll in some hay)
- 2016 – Plumsky (sommelier) – Pole Dark (a black pole)
- Sovereign Steve – Bricks It (three red bricks arranged as the letters IT)
- Hair Minge – Labour Party (a Barbie doll giving birth to a party blower)
- E.B.Trumped – Oh Baaah Ma Leaves (two sheep and some leaves)
- Willy Dropum – Pair of Drawers (a pair of drawers from a bureau)
- Kick Ass O – The European Single Meerkat (a lone meerkat holding a European flag)
- 2017 – Chris P Bacon (Year 8 student) – Pulled Pork (a tractor pulling a pig)
- Sue D'onim – Fake Nudes (Barbie and Ken naked and holding hands)
- Tiger Would – Minnie Driver (a small golf club)
- Keepthefaith – Northern Soul (a shoe with a compass on its sole)
- Lady (Sheila) Critters – Pant & Dec (a pair of pants with playing cards on top)
- N Eedl Ife – Pornhub (internet hub with a chess pawn on top)
- 2018 – Stroke Me (Lavatory Attendant) – Collywobbles (a plastic collie dog on a jelly)
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. 1 December 2003. Retrieved 8 January 2007.
- Ananova (5 December 2003). "Unicyclist wins Turnip Prize for rubbish art". Daily Times (Pakistan). Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 9 January 2007.
- "Bird's nest awarded Turnip Prize". BBC News. 6 December 2005. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- "And this year's prize turnip is ... Ian Lewis!". Weston & Somerset Mercury. 11 December 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
- "Turnip Prize 2006". BBC Somerset. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- "Turnip Prize entries compete for top bad art accolade". 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.
- Ellison, Roland (3 December 2012). "Taking the pee: 'The Three Tenas' crap art prize winner really is pants". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- "Turnip Prize: See the winner and finalists in Somerset's bad art contest". BBC News Somerset. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- "Turnip Prize: Ewe Kip wins Somerset bad art contest". BBC News. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- "The Turnip Prize: 'Dismal And' wins spoof art accolade". BBC News. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- "Poldark announced as winner of coveted Turnip Prize". Weston Mercury. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- "Spoof art triumphs once again at the 2017 Turnip Prize". BBC News. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- "Turnip Prize 2018: Spoof art award winner announced". BBC. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
- Spanton, Tim (2001). "It's the Turnip Prize". The Sun. Retrieved 8 January 2007.[dead link]
- "Edinburgh College of Art Turnip Prize". November 2004. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- "Artists turnip in their droves". The Scotsman. 28 October 2005. Archived from the original on 28 October 2005. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- "Turnip heads the art world". East End Life. 15 August 2006. Archived from the original on 21 August 2006. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- Barker, Godfrey (8 July 1998). "Back to school, and no virgins". Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 January 2007.