Turner Prize 2008

Ah, good. Every year the Turner Prize nominees are announced and it gives me, a complete philistine with fewer artistic tendencies than Cro-Magnon man, the chance to basically call them a bunch of charlatans.

First, in case you missed it, here’s a link to last year’s blog post on the Turner Prize. The nominees and their works are different, but the thick layer of bullsh*t has not changed in depth.

This year we could debate the fact that the artists are actually talented artists but they’ve reached that stage in their career where they don’t actually have to create something that takes a lot of artistic talent in order for it to be regarded as art. In rather the same way that Pablo Picasso was a talented artist, but later in his career he could just flick paint on a canvas and someone would declare “it’s a Picasso” and hand over five million quid. Or fifty billion pesetas.

Acceptance of this stuff I believe comes not from us, the public, but the art establishment who knows art better than we do. To us a collection of dots is merely a collection of dots, but when someone who knows about art tells us that it’s artistic genius (because the dots were painted by Damian Hirst) we believe it. I say “we” in a very general way, because I don’t care who painted the dots (or put the shark in the preserving fluid) – a child of seven could have painted those dots. So am I being unfair on those artists who may actually have demonstrated great artistic skills previously, but are put in front of the public for creating the garbage we see exhibited for the Turner Prize? Possibly…

Anyway, that said, let’s have a look at a couple of nominated works. One is a set of photos – okay, there’s a lot of skill and know-how involved with being a great photographer, but I’d say there are more telling prizes for photographers who, for example, capture important moments in history as they happen (rather than a cup being knocked off a table).

Before I discuss the works of Cathy Wilkes, remember that back in 2001 I said “if I nailed six corn beef tins and a dead squirrel to a piece of chipboard, the jumped-up curators of the Tate Modern wouldn’t be falling over themselves to hang it on the wall”. However, if Ms Wilkes exhibited a “female mannequin perched on a toilet with a bowl with left-over bits of dried porridge at her feet” it would be a completely different story. And it is.

I’ll leave the final thought to art critic Rachel Campbell-Johnston, who (for someone in her profession) is showing worrying signs of living in the real world… “This Turner prize is going to be very, very confusing.”

And finally (finally), and I know this is a repeat, if you want to see a real artist demonstrate an incredible talent, I never cease to be amazed by the pavement art of Julian Beever who has added a few more works of art to his collection since last year. True genius.


  1. Well, since last years effort on my part failed to attract viewers or buyers, I feel I should be a little more daring in my effort to produce modern art this year.

    Therefore, this year I intend to go out to a local dairy and find the biggest cowpat possible. I shall transplant this steaming pile of manure to a local Petrol Station forecourt where I shall place it between the pumps and call this work of art ” Alternative Energy “.

    Chances of being arrested….. quite good…. chances of winning a prize… zero.

    Why do the newspapers encourage these nutters by promoting such rubbish.
    Give the 25 grand to a deserving cause and not someone who is likely to spend it on dummies, duck tape and an old toilet.

    I shall look forward to next years competition with bated breathe………not!!!

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