Who Did it Better: Turner or Turnip?

This week the Turner Prize was awarded. So was the Turnip prize. We look at the winners of both and ask - who did it better?

Turner Prize Artworks Are Unveiled

Well, there you have it… Array Collective have won this year’s Turner Prize. A group of ‘art activists’ from Belfast, they’re now the first artists from Northern Ireland to win the prestigious award since its inception in 1984.  

Turner Prize Winning Array Collective

The group’s mock-up síbín – an illicit drinking establishment, a ‘pub without permission’, which were initially spawned in Ireland – was able to bring a bit of playful revelry to a politicised exhibition. That’s not to say the message within its cosy confines wasn’t political either though. In fact, far from it. 

Placards adorn the walls discussing a myriad of social issues, including LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, and troubling Northern Irish affairs; a video plays with a gay rights activist humorously discussing his experience of coming out.

By all accounts these are causes worth fighting for and the solutions have, and will continue, to define our age, but should this come at the expense of aesthetic joy? For what should be Britain’s premier art affair – named of course after one of the greats (J.M.W Turner) – nothing visually particularly captures the eye. This is a political pub. 

Turner Prize Winning Array Collective

Array Collective’s Emma Campbell (La Morrígan) has dismissed such a critique, much of which was directed at this year’s shortlist when the exhibition opened at the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry. ‘All art is political, even if the artist doesn’t think it is,’ she’s since replied to the award’s critics. That may be, but such a statement arguably neglects the viewer hungry for pure beauty.

In an immediate problem for the group following their shortlist – and in a recurring theme for artists across the UK – it was revealed they would have to leave their Belfast studio within 18 months after they were nominated. Their £25,000 prize money will now go a long way to help them find somewhere new. And, regardless of one’s views of the art, that is something we can all cheer for.

Meanwhile, Panda Mick is the winner of this year’s illustrious Turnip Prize.

 In a year defined by a pandemic, the ragged black and white stuffed toy with the name ‘Mick’ stuck feebly on his chest is a fitting winner of the satirical award. Bestowed annually upon Britain’s worst artwork, created using the least effort, Turnip Prize winning art is so astonishingly bad that it needs recognition.

Panda Mick Turnip Prize

The creator of Panda Mick is a 69 year old architect from Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire. He prevailed over 96 other entries, and said, of being crowned the nation’s worst artist, “I have always had grand designs on art and wanted to create something contemporary to build on the foundation of my black and white.”

Held at The New Inn in Wedmore, Somerset each year, the trophy consists of a turnip impaled by a rusty nail and was first awarded in 1999, in response to Tracy Emin’s infamous, Turner-shortlisted piece, My Bed. Trevor Prideaux, who organises the Turnip Prize, announced, “I am delighted with the lack of effort taken to create this work. He clearly has what it takes to be recognised in modern art circles and will be remembered in art history for no time at all”.

Turnip Prize

Other finalists from this year’s prize ceremony include:

  •   ‘Glowball Warming’ – a hot water bottle with a glowing ball placed on top.
  •   ‘Green Energy’ – a green battery.
  •   ‘Prints Andrew’ – a female mannequin with two handprints painted on.

The best – or worst? – of this year’s Turnip Prize selection will remain on display at The New Inn this week, before they are promptly thrown away. 


Leave a Reply

More like this

ai photography explained

Simplified | AI photography explained

This is a simple explanation to help you understand the process behind Eldagsen's controversial image that won the Sony World Photography Award and the ensuing debate on photography's future.

Art