The Turnip Prize 2023 demarcates twenty five years of rural intransigence towards the effete twaddle spawned by the Turner Prize, based in London. Originally, the Turner Prize celebrated artists for excellence in their chosen field. But folk in the shires have grown tired of hearing about ‘artists’ switching lights on and off, wearing dresses and offering up their jizz stained sheets ‘as a symbol of our highest aspirations’.

Trevor Turnip Prize Alan Dedman
Knock me down with a feather …..

Trevor Prideaux and a cohort of pubby locals in the Somerset village of Wedmore, were particularly irked by Tracy Emin’s ‘My Bed’ making it to the short-list for the Turner Prize.

It is said Ms Emin was encouraged to ‘make something’ (her bed) for fiscal and strategic reasons. Not because it was essential to her art, man ….. Y’ know, passionate and from the heart. At least Van Gogh could make sense of his bed with paint and brushes – more than most ‘artists’ can these days. That’s how the Turnip Prize was born, in antithesis to ‘Londonocentric authority’.

Fart Gallery by Alan Dedman
Fart Gallery

Trevor claims the Turnip Prize to be ‘the World’s biggest exhibition of shit art’. Shit certainly featured in some entries. One woman painted an image of a flower using excrement. But that’s nothing compared to what life-sentenced inmates at her/his majesty’s leisure get up to.

When your’e in solitary and the Largactil runs low, ‘getting all caked up’, decorating your cell to provide temporary relief from thirty five years of Chokey is not unusual, far more creative than any of the dung served for the Turner Prize.

Pooh-tin  Alan Dedman

The 2023 Turnip Prize is not the first time artists have used shite as a medium. In 1961 Piero Manzoni sold cans of  ‘Artist’s Shit’ at prices worth their weight in gold; in the 1990s Gilbert & George showed ‘The Naked Shit Pictures’. Gilbert asked me ‘So what do you think of them?’ (the pictures). It would have been spiteful to have said ‘I think they’re shit’ sic. But one has to question metropolitan lore in arcadia!

The New Inn Wedmore Alan Dedman
The New Inn, Wedmore.

This year the Turnip had a record number of entries, hard to cram into the confines of the New Inn, where the competition is conducted. Entries need to be compact, work according to a verbal pun and be topical. Hence the runners-up included ‘A eye’ (artificial intelligence) consisting of a fake eyeball. ‘Coronation chicken’, a tacky royal crown on top of a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken etc etc.

Damien's Hearse Turnip Prize Alan Dedman
Damien’s Hearse

The event wouldn’t be what it is but for everyone who puts in for it. A ‘nearly but not quites’ carousel on a website would help maintain faith in the cause, as would restricting entries to locals and yokels. When you’ve got Londoners scooping up the prize, it’s already gone full circle. The anti-art sentiment brewed in the West Country has been made off with and ‘institutionalized’ by them lot in the Smoke.

Entries for the Turnip Prize Alan Dedman
Some of the entries for the Turnip Prize, 2023

The winner of the Turnip Prize 2023, was an entry titled: ‘Party Gate’. A party hat placed on a wrought iron gate. Simple, topical, minimal effort and of course, a verbal pun. Just after the award ceremony, the ‘artwork’ fell to the floor with a crash. Some wit at the bar shouted ‘Party-gate crasher!’ Obviously, the winner had already shape-shifted.

Party Gate Turnip Prize Alan Dedman
Party Gate

A Cockney geezer once exclaimed: ‘London is the guv’nor!‘ A governor is someone who oversees the running of a prison. By inference we might assume Blighty is one large gaol, (as the Nazis envisioned it).

Turnip Prize Award Ceremony

The Turnip Prize mocks Londonocentric arrogance. The capital gets more than it’s fair share of arts funding and media limelight. Let’s hope the Turnip Prize remains rural property, continuing to express it’s bucolic values in the years ahead.