IF Gordon's Gin want to give 25'000 pounds to a man who dismantled a shed he found on the banks of the Rhine, turned it into a boat of sorts, and then reassembled it on land, I have no complaint whatsoever, especially since I don't drink gin. But if that man's Shedboatshed is displayed at London's Tate Gallery, then judged to be the best piece of contemporary art of 2005, and accordingly awarded the Turner Prize for his handiwork, I object most strenuously. Have Gordon's Gin nothing better to do with their money than to besmirch the name of one of Britain's greatest painters by associating it with an object that has no connection with art as that word is generally understood. All that can be said about Simon Starling's installation is that it has slightly more merit than the empty room with a flickering light that won a couple of years ago. But, essentially, the critics who said it should have won the B&Q do-it-yourself prize were right. However, to be fair, I should quote some of the expert opinion that led to Mr Starling's prize. For instance, this in a commentary by the Tate curators: Starling's pilgrimages, in their combination of lengthiness and needlessness, are a buttress against the compression of time and space characteristic of modernity, mass production and global capitalism...For each project he has learned particular skills but always stopping short of complete mastery. We can sense, in the visible fissures and joins of his works, the signs of a paradoxical amateur professional. Well, that just about sums it up, doesn't it. Amateur professional. I have nothing against Simon Starling and his shed or, for that matter Chris Ofili and his elephant dung painting which won the prize in 1998, but I just wish the Tate Gallery would drop the insulting and irrelevant association with Turner.
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