The Turner Prize was established to highlight and celebrate what the panel reasoned to be the best in conceptual art, and, although no categories or indeed boundaries were formed, apart from the fact that those nominated should be British and under the age of fifty (which sadly eliminates me), it would appear to be open to anyone with anything of an artistic bent.
Outrage was soon voiced regarding some, many of the nominees as to their suitability. We all remember the shark in formaldehyde and the unmade bed as being quirky and 'not art' as we learned of at school. Thus, the word conceptual comes in to play, more as explanation than excuse, in that the pieces were formed by a creative thinker and therefore suitable to be labelled as art.
I don't have any argument with this, none whatsoever, despite the fact that most recent winners, artists, seem to have done away with paint, canvas, brushes, palettes and frames, once vital tools of the trade. Indeed, a photographer won the Turner Prize in 1992, so he should rightly be considered to be a conceptual artist. In 1996, a Scottish artist won the thing with a video, which follows that film making is conceptual art. Scotland again in 2010 with a song, yes, a song. A woman singing under three Glasgow bridges, unless I read it wrong and she was swinging under three Glasgow bridges but the prize that year was awarded to an aural performer. Song-writing is conceptual art.
Here's my point, I knew I would get there eventually. Should we, as authors, essayists and poets, be perceived as conceptual artists since we paint pictures with descriptive words? And if so, why hasn't a writer been nominated for the Turner Prize?
Actually, the written word did feature at the 2002 presentation of the award when the graffiti artist, Banksy, wrote 'MIND THE CRAP' on the steps of the Tate Modern. Perhaps in protest at being overlooked for his own brand of conceptual art.