Head Turners; This Year the Turner Prize - Which Has Been Criticised in the Past for Favouring Video and Installation - Includes Two Painters in the Shortlist. with the Winner to Be Announced Today, Jackie Brown Takes a Look at Some of the Controversial Entries of the Past

The Birmingham Post (England), November 28, 2000 | Go to article overview

Head Turners; This Year the Turner Prize - Which Has Been Criticised in the Past for Favouring Video and Installation - Includes Two Painters in the Shortlist. with the Winner to Be Announced Today, Jackie Brown Takes a Look at Some of the Controversial Entries of the Past


Byline: Jackie Brown

It's that time of year again when traditional art lovers tend to get all hot under the collar about the winner of the highly lucrative Turner Prize.

Controversy about the award with its pounds 21,000 cheque for the winner has been fired every year in the past decade for its eclectic - to say the least - entries.

Last year it was Tracey Emin's installation of a soiled bed which attracted the most amount of interest as a debate raged as to whether it actually constituted art.

At the end of the day she lost out to video artist Steve McQueen, a result which did not phase Emin at all, who said: 'Art is not my strong point, life is. It's good that they gave it to an artist.'

Doubtless her consolation was that the amount of interest her entry aroused had earned her enough money to buy a house and retire.

Similarly Damien Hirst has made a fortune and achieved almost pop star fame since he sparked outrage with his winning entry for the Turner Prize in 1995 - pickled animal carcasses.

Now it turns out that there is strong disapproval for Hirst's work close to home from his godmother Margaret Walsh, a painter, who is vehemently against the whole award.

'It's a load of rubbish,' she says in a recent interview. 'I'm not sure if Damien knows what I think but I have hinted my views in letters to him and anyway why should he care? He's raking it in with all that idiotic stuff.'

She plans to make her feelings known by joining a protest against the competition. Dressed as a clown, Walsh will join the Stuckists - painters dedicated to the overthrow of conceptual art - to present the 'Anti-Turner Prize' outside the awards ceremony tonight.

Nominees for the award include supporters of the Turner and the prize is expected to be that increasingly popular weapon of strong dissent - a custard pie in the face.

So how has an art competition ended up arousing so much feeling? It was started in 1984 by the Patrons Of The New Art, a group of rich contemporary art enthusiasts, as a parallel to the Booker Prize which at the time was making waves in the literary world.

The intention was to spark more interest in new art and the pounds 10,000 prize was given anonymously by one of the Patrons before it was taken over by a Wall Street firm. At the time there was no age limit and a prize could be given to anyone who, the judges believed, had made the greatest contribution to contemporary art in Britain.

But it did not have an auspicious start - the first winner, Malcolm Morley, a painter, was highly critical.

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Head Turners; This Year the Turner Prize - Which Has Been Criticised in the Past for Favouring Video and Installation - Includes Two Painters in the Shortlist. with the Winner to Be Announced Today, Jackie Brown Takes a Look at Some of the Controversial Entries of the Past
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