Turnip Prize for Art

One of the highlights of the UK‘s modern art world is fast approaching as the shortlist contenders for this year’s Turnip Prize for Art were announced. The Turnip – putting the arse into art for twenty years – is the pre-eminent award for contemporary art and this year’s contenders shows once more the remarkable range of modern British artists.

Archie McGlaikit, a graduate of the Auchenshoogle Academy of Art has impressed many art critics with his installation piece Large Empty Room. Aubrey Winnington-Smythe, art correspondent for Art Wankh, told the Gazette that he found this an incredibly powerful piece which challenged the viewer’s perceptions. When it was pointed out to him that Large Empty Room was in fact, simply, a large empty room, Winnington-Smythe nodded sagely and remarked, “Exactly, it’s amazing.” His learned opinion may have been worthy of more note if it had not turned out the room he had been studying was not in actual fact McGlaikit’s installation piece but was an old utility room the janitor had recently cleared out.

Stacey Macey, who many say glows in the Brit artistic firmament like an oil warning light on your car’s dashboard, is on the list for the third time. Her previous entries include jelly moulds made from her own breasts and a small 2-foot high wall which she would hurdle every fifteen minutes. This year she has surpassed herself with an interactive performance piece of art where she removes her jeans, bends over and invites the audience to insert a variety of kitchen implements into her gaping bum. Originally she planned to perform in a darkened room and illuminate it in bursts by having viewers light her farts, but this set off the sprinkler systems.

There are two wildlife-themed entries this year. Anton Ashwhole has a delightful video installation which features two penguins sword fencing (sabre, not foil) on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle, narrated by Christopher Lambert, star of Highlander. The art community has been split over the second wildlife-themed entry however – it is the first time an animal has made the final shortlist (other than as an unwilling entry). Daisy the cow from the Channel Island of Guernsey has created several large, clear tanks filled with formaldehyde, in which float the dissected remains of various modern artists, including Damien Hirst. Some artists have said this is simple parody and not worthy art while others claim that this is the very essence of modern Brit art fused with Punk ethos along with style and irreverence. Still others were just glad too see the smug, talentless twonk sliced up and exhibited.

The Winner will be announced in another couple of weeks. Last year’s winner was, of course, Delilah Tomkinson’s Big Book of Pressed People. Inspired by Terry Jones and Brian Froud’s Lady Cottington’s Book of Pressed Faeries, Delilah managed to persuade a number of art students and friends to lie down inside a giant scrapbook which was then placed inside an old industrial press and crushed closed. Charles Saatchi is thought to have bought it soon after it won the award for an undisclosed six-figure sum.