Dec 24, 2006
He was born in Guildford, near London, and went to the Royal College of Art. However, in 1991, the tutors refused to give him the final degree because of his show, called Cave, which consisted of a whitewashed studio space, containing only a blue heritage plaque (of the kind normally found on historic buildings) commemorating his own presence as a sculptor. This bestowed some instant notoriety on Turk, whose work was collected by Charles Saatchi.
His work often involves his own image disguised as that of a famous person. He has cast himself in a series of detailed life sized sculptures as different romantic heroes, including Sid Vicious, Jean-Paul Marat and Che Guevara. Pop, a waxwork model of Turk as Sid Vicious, in white jacket and black trousers, pointing a handgun (appropriating the stance of Andy Warhol's painting of Elvis Presley as a cowboy), was part of the 1997 Sensation exhibition which toured London, Berlin and New York. A set of what appeared to be classic posters of Che Guevara in a beret, revealed themselves on further scrutiny to be photos of Turk in the same pose.
Ambiguity features throughout his work. What appeared to be a discarded plastic rubbish bag was in fact a bronze sculpture of one. A large industrial skip (normally yellow, battered and with rust) was painted an immaculate gloss black. He turned up at the private view of the Sensation exhibition at the solemn Royal Academy, London, dressed as a down-and-out.