When did the turnip come to mean the worst of the worst? The staple of many mediaeval diets has come from staving off hunger to representing the ultimate of the bottom of the list in the art world. To be eligible, it must remind someone (the entrant) of crap and show a decidedly lack of effort. If you think it is crap, then someone else might think it is crap. If you are right in your crappy opinion, then you get to be the crappy winner of the crappy Turnip Prize.
The Turnip Prize is a play on words on the previously established Turner Award by the Tate Gallery. It was in protest to a submission by artist Tracey Emin of her unmade bed. Not a photo… her real bed! It was decided by some locals in Somerset that they could also come up with something as equally shitty. Since the title of the award is a play on words, it has become common for the name of a Turnip Prize entrant to also be a pun.
Since 1999, artists from all over the world have done their best to show their worst. From Alfred the Grate (two rolls on a grate) in 1999 to last year’s Dismal And (“&” looking dismal) have earned the annual Turnip Prize. My favorite is 2013’s Play on Words shown above. The biggest miss? Had to be last year’s runner up of Danger Mouse showing a computer mouse with an electrical warning sticker on top. It was disqualified for showing to much effort. Who knows what we will see this year?
Reader’s Digest is even trying to get in on the Turnip Prize action. Earlier this year, the iconic magazine published a contest of their own. Readers send in their best idea of a pun and how it should appear. The Reader’s Digest will pick their own choice for the best (worst?) and make it the offical Reader’s Digest entry for the Turnip Prize. New entrants will have to wait until next year. This year’s entry deadline for the Reader’s Digest representative has already closed.
In case you couldn’t tell from above, here is a close up of that highly coveted Turnip Prize. A real turnip is impaled on a six inch rusty nail piercing through a board platform. In a true effortless scheme, the recipient is reminded of their own rusty attempt of piercing through the opaqueness of wood to reach the anti-penultimate of turnipry. But, that might be too much effort on the part of the contest organizers to make someone think. Maybe it just means a turnip on a rusty nail?
If you think you have an idea that is crappy enough to win the Turnip Prize, box up your artwork and send it off to the owners of the New Inn at Wedmore. They would love to see it. But don’t spend too much effort on it. You might disqualify yourself. Entries are open this year from November 1st to November 21st. The awards ceremony will be held at the New Inn at Wedmore on December 5th. Don’t bother with return postage though. Entries are not returned. Afterwards, they are thrown away with all of the other garbage.