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The tower is usually open once a year to the public during the festival when the artists work can be seen

Job Spec | Curfew Tower Award

Taken from http://www.penkiln-burn.com/

11 August 2005

Sitting in the kitchen of the Curfew Tower, a mountain of dishes to wash and a hangover to nurse. It is the morning after the award of the first annual Turnley Prize and right now I’m thinking everything went fan-fucking-tastically well. We were open from noon until midnight. Hundreds of citizens of Cushendall and a few stray tourists poured in to inspect the art and cast their vote.

And all of them seemed to be up for what it was about. At the stroke of midnight we bolted the door and unlocked the ballot box and got down to the business of the count. Only three of the voting slips had been spoilt. The democratic process had been adhered to and we had a clear winner.

My only problem now is the name. Not the name of the artist, the name of the prize. It has been bugging me ever since we called it the Turnley Prize that the name somehow confused the issue. Calling it the Turnley Prize means you have to explain every time it’s mentioned who Francis Turnley is and what he was about and that it was him who had the tower built, and no, it’s not an ironic play on the Turner Prize. In business-world speak the brand is the all-important thing, and the Curfew Tower is the brand both in text and visually. That is where you stay when you do your residency and the winner of the prize gets a small cast of the tower. So I want to change the name of the thing back to The Curfew Tower Award.

Make a pot of tea, let my mind drift, let thoughts sift and settle. Then try and get into focus mode so I can write a press release. This is what I write.

The Curfew Tower Award

Peter Richards is the winner of the first annual Curfew Tower Award.

Peter Richards is a Belfast-based artist who uses pinhole photography as his main medium. He has exhibited widely and is currently represented in the N. Ireland pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.

The Curfew Tower in Cushendall, N. Ireland has hosted an artist’s residency since 1999. Residencies are for between two and four weeks. In that time artists are expected to produce work inspired or informed by the immediate locality. They are also required to donate a piece of this work to the Curfew Tower collection. A selection of this work is hung permanently in the tower. On Wednesday 10 August 2005, the tower was opened to the public, as part of The Heart of The Glens Festival and the citizens of Cushendall were invited to cast a vote for what they thought was the best work of art on display. Peter Richards’ large photograph of the tower, made by converting the tower’s wheelie bin into a pinhole camera, was the outright winner.

Next year’s Curfew Tower Award show will feature work by artists in residence over the intervening 12 months. Once again the tower will be opened for one day as part of The Heart Of The Glens Festival and the citizens of Cushendall will be invited to cast their votes.

The winner of the award receives a small bronze cast of the Curfew Tower and no fat cheque.

So that seems to be decided. The Curfew Tower Award it is. I then climb the hill outside the tower to get a signal on my mobile. Make a couple of calls to see if I can track down a number for Peter Richards. Then I call him.

‘Hallo, is that Peter?’
‘It’s Bill Drummond here.’
‘Remember you did that photo of the Curfew Tower using a wheelie bin as a pinhole camera?’
‘Well it won the first Annual Curfew Tower Award…’
And I explained all of the stuff you already know from reading this and how it got nearly twice as many votes as its nearest rival. He seemed pleased.

I told him he would be getting the bronze cast and that I would be emailing him the press release for him to check and correct before I sent it out.

Back in the kitchen John Hirst is up and claiming to be still drunk from the night before. He also reckons we should be doing a certificate for the winner so I make another pot of tea and start to try and work out the wording for that but it ends up being pretty much like the press release. Cally phones. I tell him he is breaking up but that I will go up the hill and call him back.

I do. I tell him about the certificate, thinking he will think it should look like some ornate, pseudo-Victorian thing. He doesn’t. He thinks it should be done like one of the posters I do, but instead of the word NOTICE it should say AWARD at the top in red and there should be hardly any of the text I was proposing, just a few words stating who had won it and a brief description of the winning work.

John Hirst has started making a list of how things could be better next year. I get on with the mountain of washing up. The hangover is subsiding.

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