The Turnip Prize
is a spoof UK prize that satirises the Tate Gallery
's Turner Prize
by exhibiting deliberately badly made "art" created with minimal effort. It was started mainly as a joke in 1999, but has gained national media attention and inspired other similar prizes.
It was conceived in 1999 by the management and regulars of The George Hotel (subsequently the New Inn), Wedmore
. Its instigation was prompted by the exhibition of Tracey Emin
's My Bed
in the Turner Prize
that year. It is organised by Trevor Prideaux. It was announced as, "The Turnip Prize is a crap art competition ... You can enter anything you like, but it must be rubbish." The competition was based on the notion, "We know it's rubbish, but is it art?" and competitors submitted entries of ridiculous objects posing as contemporary art objects, mostly made from junk with titles that are spoofs or puns. The prize is a turnip impaled on a rusty six-inch nail.
In May 2000, the nominees appeared on the BBC TV Esther Rantzen show. The show has been featured regularly by national and even international media.
Other prizes have also challenged the Turner Prize. In 1993, the K Foundation
awarded the £40,000 "Anti-Turner Prize
", for the "worst artist in Britain", voted from the Turner Prize's short-list. In 2000 the Stuckists
instituted "The Real Turner Prize" for painters. In 2003, the Daily Mail
ran a "Not the Turner Prize" competition.
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.
The term was previously used in 1998 by YBA Jake Chapman of the Chapman Brothers (2003 Turner Prize nominees): "We thought if we couldn't get the Turner Prize we should get the Turnip Prize.
The Wedmore competition
In 2003, the winner was James Timms with Take a Leaf out of My Chook, a raw chicken stuffed with leaves.
In 2005, Ian Osenthroat, a 69-year-old former photocopier salesman, won with Birds Flew, a bird's nest with a flu remedy box. He commented, "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.
The winner in 2006 was Ian Lewis with Torn Beef, an empty corned beef can. He said, "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 even more publicity after the entry of a piece of artwork with the title By the Banksea. The painting bears a striking resemblance to the work of the famous Bristol graffiti artist Banksy and its origins are 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, the Mona Lisa is holding a rocket launcher, firing a turnip over the wreckage of a seaside pier and an emergency exit sign.
Competition organiser Trevor Prideaux said: '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 s##t enough'.
The 2007 competition was won by Bracey Vermin with Tea P, used tea bags in the shape of a P.
Winners and shortlisted artists
This list is incomplete
- 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)
- 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)
- 2001/2 - Cancelled due to an outbreak of Root-in-Mouth.
- 2003 - James Timms (long-distance unicyclist, age 26), winner - Take a Leaf out of my Chook (A raw chicken stuffed with leaves)
- Bitter and Twisted (a piece of grapefruit peel)
- Jonny Wilkinson (a condom and a razor blade)
- What a Waste (a sculpture of plumbing pipe)
- 2005 - Ian Osenthroat (former photocopier salesman, age 69), winner - Birds Flew (An empty birds' nest with a box of flu remedy)
- 2006 - Ian Lewis, 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
- The Second Coming
- 2007 - Bracey Vermin - 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).