Stuck Inn IV: Stuckists’ Turner Prize Protest Apology
By Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckists art group.
For the first time since 2000 there will not be a Stuckist demonstration at the Turner Prize. This is due to industrial action: the Stuckists are coming out on strike in protest at the lameness of this year’s show, which does not merit the accolade of the traditional demo.
We apologise for any disappointment this may cause.
Paul Myners, Tate Chairman, with Charles Thomson at the 2006 Turner Prize Stuckist demo. Photo: Rick Friend
Paul Myners, Tate Chairman (prominent businessman and consultant to the Treasury Department), thanked us in person at last year’s demo for giving the Tate extra publicity. If he expects the benefit of our presence, then he will have to do better than just recycling previous nominees, who only deserve one demo at the outside. Two of this year’s four nominees have been nominated in the past. This shows a distinct laziness by the jury.
Stuckist Turner Prize demonstrators at the Tate in 2000: copycat Mark Wallinger gets a Turner nomination
Former Turner winner, Grayson Perry has observed in The Times that we “lend a festive air to the queue to get in”. We are sorry that the proceedings will get off to a lame start, but again, it is up to him to use his influence to get more used condoms and hacked up animal carcasses as exhibits. This year there is a doll’s house, which simply doesn’t merit the effort of protesting against it; and the video of some idiot in a bear costume wandering round a museum is indistinguishable from a Stuckist demonstrator anyway.
Sir Nicholas Serota, Tate Director, at the 2006 Turner Prize Stuckist demo with a protest leaflet depicting him behind Tracey Emin’s knickers. Photo: Rick Friend
We apologise to those guests who have waited patiently in past years to get protest leaflets signed — and on occasion taken a placard into the event — especially those guests related to the Tate Director.
This year, for the first time, the Prize is being held not at Tate Britain, but at Tate Liverpool. We also apologise to the Tate Liverpool attendants, who told one of our artists they were looking forward to our presence, and to the people of Liverpool, who have contacted us directly to ask if we will be there. We assure them there is no slight intended to the City, whose fine Walker Art Gallery hosted a major show, The Stuckists Punk Victorian, in 2004. But if the Tate expects us to make the effort of standing in the wet and cold all day, then they have to learn we cannot be taken for granted.
In 2005, just before he presented the Prize, then-Culture Minister, David Lammy, said on live national TV, “Every year, the Turner Prize makes contemporary art the talk of the airwaves … Stuckists threaten never to paint again.” (He almost got it right.) The Tate cannot say they were not warned.
It is desperately necessary to upgrade the standards of the prize which has steadily degraded into increasing blandness. What is needed is someone whose manic personality is guaranteed to give some zest to proceedings by doing all the wrong things. We suggest possibly Billy Childish (Co-founder, now ex-, Stuckist), who is incapable of not speaking his mind, and Stella Vine (another former Stuckist) who is well known as the loosest cannon since the Battle of Trafalgar. However, we understand the natural reluctance of the Tate to nominate people who paint pictures for a prize named after a painter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Thomson was the only person in 10 years to fail the painting degree at Maidstone College of Art. In 1979, he was a founder member of The Medway Poets, and then a full-time poet for 13 years, with work in over 100 anthologies. In 1999 he named, co-founded and has since been the driving force of the Stuckism movement, which now numbers more than 150 groups in 38 countries. He has demonstrated for 7 years outside the Turner Prize, and in 2005 applied under the Freedom of Information Act for Tate trustee minutes about the gallery’s purchase of its trustee Chris Ofili’s work. This led in 2006 to the Charity Commission’s ruling that the Tate had been acting illegally for the last 50 years. His painting satirising Sir Nicholas Serota, whose face peers over a large pair of (Tracey Emin’s) red knickers, is a well-known image. He was briefly married to artist Stella Vine in 2001.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, December 2nd, 2007.