Damien’s Hearse. The wife said: ‘That’s not very nice!’ and the boy said ‘Well he’s not very nice! he cuts cows in half and pickles sharks.’ In trying my best not to win the coveted Turnip Prize, I simply haven’t bothered to enter for the past twenty four years, even though it’s on my doorstep! Beat that for minimal effort Trevor!!
However, the original idea: ‘Damien’s Hearse’ has been lurking at the back of my mind for a quarter of a century. The Turnip Prize is an offshoot of the lesser known Turner Prize, (what them lot in London think art is all about).
Some people in a pub in the Somerset village of Wedmore took umbrage at Tracy Emin’s ‘My bed’ being shortlisted for the Turner Prize. So they invented the Turnip Prize for crap art. Each year, aspiring piss-takers and ….. people who generally can’t be bothered have presented their best NON-efforts at not really making art, at all. Just to show Trace babes what it’s about at grass roots level.
Twenty five years ago, upon hearing about the Turnip Prize, I immediately thought of Damien’s Hearse as a way of parodying the overblown nit-wit with too much money and insufficient drawing skills. The idea of plonking a plastic cow on the roof of a toy hearse, with an expired shark on it’s bonnet took very little time and effort to execute. It didn’t even require a studio assistant!
I decided not to cut the cow in half (too much effort) and thought how wonderful it’d be if a living specimen could be persuaded to chew the cud on top of a real hearse. But Ermintrude would probably baulk at the smell of a dead shark under her nose. And the shark would have to be dead, or else it would start chewing the cow as it chewed the cud!
I briefly met Damien Hirst when David Bowie was wearing him as arm candy at an exhibition. Damien looked slightly uncomfortable cos everyone knew who the real star was. Mr. Hearse is probably a nice enough chap. David Hockney said artists shouldn’t knock each other but frankly, that’s unrealistic.
In ‘The Shop’ Tracy Emin and Sarah Lucas sold glass ash-trays with a picture of Damien Hirst’s face peering through the base, so smokers could stub their fags out on him. Now that’s not very nice! (and everyone says how nice Ms Emin is).
Nor is it very nice to go chain-sawing cows in half for the sake of ascending the greasy pole of success. Though it remains to be seen whether Mr. Hearse could actually perform the task himself. Sometimes a saw can be an absolute bastard to start! Meanwhile your cow has moved on to greener pastures.
‘Damien’s Hearse’ is by no means an attempt to call on the nemesis of this ‘Titan of post-modernism’. It satisfies Turnip criteria of the verbal pun; plus it’s a quickly assembled piss-take of ‘the London Art Bubble’.
To date the Turnip Prize has done a great service to the World; demonstrating the irrelevance of Londonocentric ‘Art’ in the rain sodden shires of this green and pleasant land. However ….. some bloke from Tooting (London) won last year’s Turnip. What does that say about the state of rural anti-Art?