THE MORNING AFTER
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
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
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
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.