Turner Prize: British artist Jeremy Deller tells ITV News it gave him 'an upgrade' but is the award 'behind the times'?

Damien Hirst's 'Mother and Child divided' won him the Turner Prize and a boosted his art career. Credit: PA
  • By ITV News Digital Producer Aspel Brown

It's helped make household names out of artists like Grayson Perry, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Antony Gormley - while sparking endless debate on the merits of the competing works.

From Emin's bed to Hirst's bisected cows in formaldehyde, British art's biggest prize has been cheered and booed while routinely provoking the age-old modern question: is it art?

This year the Tate has ripped up the rules again with the first video-only shortlist since the award started in 1984.

But does the prize still pack a punch after over 30 years?

ITV News asked a winner, curators, critics and even the organisers of the annual parody Turnip Prize how they rate the award in 2018.

"Self satisfied, complacent and behind the times."

Last year's winner Lubaina Himid with one of her works of art titled A Fashionable Marriage, 1986. Credit: PA

Veteran art critic and author Edward Lucie-Smith is no fan, declaring the competition "currently crap".

His main criticism? "(It's) self satisfied, complacent and behind the times," he told ITV News.

Four shortlisted video artists are vying to land the 2018 title and scoop the £25,000 prize on Tuesday evening at Tate Britain.

But for Lucie-Smith, they're not up to scratch and may not even be artists.

"The probable prize winner, and most credible entrant on the shortlist is - or are - Forensic Architecture, who don't admit to being art," he argued.

"But who wants to sit on their bum in Tate Modern for five hours straight being lectured, rather condescendingly, by simplistic idiots? The other shortlisted entrants supply that in full measure."

Who won this year and who was in the running?

Charlotte Prodger won this year's Turner Prize for her works on gender identity shot.

Glasgow-based artist Charlotte Prodger's solo project 'BRIDGIT' was shot entirely on her iPhone.

She edged out 'Forensic Architecture' - made up of filmmakers, journalists and scientists responsible for the film 'The Long Duration of a Split Second' which explores human rights violations.

Runners up also included artist Naeem Mohaiemen, whose films, installations and essays look at the legacies of decolonisation after the Second World War.

And New-Zealander Luke Willis Thompson was also in the running for his black-and-white films, which include a silent portrait of the girlfriend of an American shooting victim.

'Buoyant and impressive'

Artist Tracey Emin lost out on the award for 'My Bed' in 1999 but still managed to find success, selling the artwork for over £2.5 million at auction in 2014. Credit: PA

Curator of Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain Lindsey Young said this year's crop judged by a four-person panel of creative experts showed British art at its best.

She told ITV News: "I think this year shows how buoyant and impressive the art is, it shows the flexibility and breath of contemporary artists."

But Lucie-Smith said the current best of British video artists is no match for international talent.

"Much better art-video is available," he said. "The one in the Oceania show, by a Maori woman artist - Lisa Reihana - is, or was, terrific, panoramic and at the same time involving.

"Things have moved on. But apparently not in the British official art world."

'I got an upgrade'

Former Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller went on to represent Great Britain in the 2013 Venice Biennale with his painting 'The Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, UK 24 October 2007'. Credit: AP

Winner of the 2004 Turner Prize and conceptual video artist Jeremy Deller went on to represent Great Britain in the 2013 Venice Biennale 11 years after his win.

When asked by ITV News about his experience he simply replied - "I got an upgrade" - an answer typically open to interpretation.

It is not just the winners who stand to benefit from the award.

1999 nominee Emin in fact lost to artist-turned-Hollywood director Steve McQueen but her infamous dishevelled 'My Bed' went on to sell for more than £2.5 million at auction in 2014.

Others are confident the Turner Prize has stood the test of time.

'Grayson Perry is now basically a national treasure'

Art critic Ben Luke argues that previous winner Grayson Perry, pictured with his family after winning in 2003, is now considered 'a national treasure'. Credit: PARNABY LINDSEY PARNABY/PA

Art critic at the London Evening Standard and Features Editor at The Art Newspaper Ben Luke told ITV News the award still makes "a massive difference to artists", both in terms of exposure and finance.

"I think Grayson Perry's (2003) win was significant and brought him into the public eye in a way he had not been before," he said. "Grayson Perry is now basically a national treasure."

Nominees also receive a sum of money to help fund their work - this year £5,000 - but Mr Luke accepted the prize has not benefited everyone.

"For artists like Ian Davenport, being nominated was enormous," he said. "Although he was suddenly in the public eye and sometimes artists need time away to develop their work."

Yet he believes the competition still has a future, saying: "I don't think it's getting better or worse, this year there happens to be a lot of video installations and it is quite political but it has still remained very interesting."

'We know it's crap, but is it art?'

'The Turnip Prize' entry titled 'Collywobbles' hopes to win the spoof award this year. Credit: Trevor Prideaux

Beyond the selected works exhibited for the Turner Prize, unlikely art fans from across the country take part in the annual spoof award with great enthusiasm.

The 'Turnip Prize' was started in 1999 in response to Emin's shortlisted bed.While the annual winner may not fetch as much at auction as an original Emin, they can look forward to taking home the much-sought-after root vegetable trophy for their creation.

Organiser Trevor Prideaux told ITV News: "Our motto is 'We know it's crap, but is it art?'"

Their comedic approach aims to highlight the weird world of modern art but Mr Prideaux said: "Up until a few years ago 'The Turnip Prize' was still really relevant but the Turner has improved slightly over the last few years.

"The number of entries the Turner Prize receives each year means there is definitely an appetite for it."

And many of this year's budding artists have used food to help create puns for their final pieces, such as a stack of tinned baked beans labelled 'Trump Tower' and a plastic toy dog on a plate of jelly titled 'Collywobbles'.

Unlike the Turner Prize, lack of effort is rewarded with last year's winning entry - a toy pig attached to a car - from 12-year-old artist 'Chris P Bacon'.

This year's winner will be announced on the same evening as the Turner Prize but Mr Prideaux said: "All six are worthy winners in my eyes."