Tracey Emin gets up one morning, takes a look at her bed, the sheets all scrunched up and messy, the floor around it littered with all kinds of crap… and she is lauded as being an artistic genius and makes a fortune out of it. Me, I get up in the morning, look at my bed, the top sheet slightly creased from where I turned over in the night, a tissue accidentally falls out of the pocket of my jimjams, lands the floor… and the only reward I get is a b******ing from Mrs T for being slovenly. Where’s the justice in that? Being rewarded for turning out crap.
Ever been to Barcelona? Beautiful city… apart from one or two minor blemishes, blots on the landscape. The Sagrada Familia, for instance, a church designed by combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. The place is so hideous, so grotesque nobody can be bothered finishing it… and UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site. I mean, why? Why would they do that? Are they mad? If it had been me that had come up with the plans for the place I would be locked away in a remote research facility by now, being prodded and poked to find out what powerful new drug had addled my brain so badly. Either that or I’d be living out the rest of my life incarcerated in an institution for the criminally deranged. But, it wasn’t me, was it? No, it was that Gaudi bloke, the one responsible for covering buildings scattered around the city, random walls, his statues of lizards and anything else he could get his hands on while nobody was looking, in brightly coloured pieces of glass and mosaics so gaudy that you need sunglasses to walk passed them even on the dullest of days.
You know where the word gaudy comes from, don’t you? It comes from 15th century old French and means “to jest or scoff at” so it is clearly the origin of the Gaudi family name, young Antoni’s father simply spelt it wrong when he went to register his newly born son.
To make matters worse, everywhere you go the shops are filled with souvenirs of the supposed master’s work, most of it… well, all of it really, total crap designed to rip off gullible American tourists who think they’re buying something genuine. We were in a shop one day and Mrs T was looking for something to take home with her as a memento of our visit to the city. She picked up a frog made from what looked like offcuts of broken tiles left over from when the bathroom was decorated, turned it over and looked at the price. It was 80 euros which, at the time, I thought was expensive. “You could save yourself some money there,” I said thinking I was being helpful. “You can get a shell frog on the front at Blackpool for just over a quid. Stick it on the mantelpiece back home and nobody would know the difference”.
Apparently, I was wrong.
But, and it gladdens my heart to say this, there is an alternative to all this madness. The Turnip Prize, an innovative award satirising the Turner Prize (the one where The Tate Gallery throw money at people for turning out shit) by dishing out the cherished prize of a turnip hammered into a block of wood with a six inch nail to entries displaying such captivating titles as “lack of effort” and “is this shit?” (in the past entries have been disqualified for “too much effort” and being “not shit enough”).
And what inspired the concept, you might ask?
Whilst I’m sure numerous pints of scrumpy cider might have had some bearing on it, (the concept was devised after an all-nighter in a Somerset pub) the idea was that it would be a competition rewarding deliberately bad modern art. It celebrates… well, anything really so long as its rubbish, the whole competition is based on the supposition “we know its rubbish, but its art”, which, to be fair, could be the advertising slogan for the next Turner Prize. The only difference being, the people in Somerset know they are taking the piss, the people at the Tate don’t have the slightest idea.
In the spirit of the award, last Christmas, my mate, Ken, sent me an email containing one of his own efforts, a picture of a children’s toy lamb standing next to a humbug titled “bah, humbug”…a highly appropriate offering for the time of year, I thought. A creative masterpiece, you might say. Or a complete pile of shite if you’re in a less generous mood.
It’s no surprise, then, that this spark of creative genius by my guru-inspired me to create a masterpiece of my own. Not to be outdone, I took up the challenge with vigour and fortitude, grabbed a piece of blank paper from the printer, photocopied it and gave it the title “invisible ink”. Now, you can’t show much less lack of effort than that, can you? Got to be a winner.
Anyway, the point of all this is that… what the…? I… I don’t believe it. I just noticed on the internet, Tracey Emin has recently married a rock (no, no I’m not taking the piss, I’m serious, she actually married a rock, a beautiful ancient stone that lives under an olive tree in her garden apparently). I’ve heard of desperate, middle-aged women marrying a sun-bronzed Mediterranean God after visiting the Greek islands on holiday (although that doesn’t happen so often now that under EU law you don’t have to be married to a UK national to gain entry to the country) … but a rock for crying out loud ? What the hell’s all that about?
God, give me strength.