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Gavin Turk and the Royal College Degree Show

After Gavin Turk installs a plaque dedicated to himself for his final degree show the Royal College of Art refuse to grant him an MA

Gavin Turk_Cave.jpg

Gavin Turk, Cave, 1991, ceramic plaque in room

Gavin Turk, Cave, 1991, ceramic plaque in room

Three days before the end of his degree show, Gavin Turk received a letter from Jocelyn Stevens, the rector of the Royal College of Art:

‘Following a meeting of the Academic Board for Concessions and Discipline held on 11 June, the Board decided that you had displayed insufficient work of the standard required for your Final Examination and agreed that you should be required to re-submit to the Final Examination Board on Friday 21 June at 4.00 pm. You will be expected to show a substantial body of work of at least 6 - 8 pieces.’

Turk went to the meeting with a slide-projector. Amongst his own work, he showed additional slides, including Jannis Kounellis's Untitled (12 Horses) (1969); Jeff Koons's self promotional poster and the English Heritage plaque to commemorate John Ruskin. He felt this was necessary ‘to illustrate the lineage and context within which the work was operating.’

‘As far as l was concerned, the board was unable to see the piece because they desire to see a readily consumable traditional sculpture. It seemed to me that an interest in contemporary debate was absent or even irrelevant.’ Cave (above) was the installation shown at the degree show. The presentation of an English Heritage plaque in an otherwise empty room was what brought Turk to the attention of the examiners. Following this re-examination Turk was refused his MA certificate.

Issue 1

First published in Issue 1

Sept - Oct 1991
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