Punters fleeced in degree sale

EVERYTHING FOR sale was in the sheep currency. Not everyone got the hang of this at first, which was a bit of a problem for the organiser Gavin Turk, one of the better known Young British Artists.

But when you organise an Agricultural Show, which is really a pop-culture extravaganza and where most of the stars are artists not animals, there are bound to be a few things which do not go to plan.

Outside the Royal Festival Hall in London yesterday, some of Britain's trendiest young artists gathered for the fifth Articultural Festival in a series which began in 1993.

The first three were organised by the art entrepreneur Joshua Compston, but after he died from drinking ether, Gavin Turk took over and this year the fair moved to the South Bank Centre as one of its Great Outdoors events.

Mr Turk, 32, was somewhat hassled yesterday. Passers-by were failing to understand the currency rules and he feared they needed a few more signs.

"I'm enjoying it, but it's a bit of a headache. There was a point this morning when I wasn't sure whether people would come. But in fact we're over-subscribed."

There are similarities to a traditional agricultural show. There were five real sheep who looked slightly despondent in the showers. There were also chicks, with names like Poultry Sum and Hens Forth, being raced by IT consultant Falk Hirdes and DJ Gordon Faulds.

A number of lucky dips and a plate-smashing event would not have looked out of place at a village fair. Then there were the things that would. You could peer through a two-inch plate of glass in a wall of blue plastic to discover two drummers inside drumming. You could be photographed with a giant pink vibrating bodily part or buy a poem from the comedian Arthur Smith.

Tracey Emin and Gillian Wearing, two of the biggest names on the contemporary art scene, were expected. Like all the stallholders, they were friends of Gavin. Apart from the friends of friends of Gavin.

Sean Blair, 33, a designer, had just picked up a PhD from the stall offering "a very fine and impressively nice PhD in Fine Art" for a reasonable two sheep. "I love it," he said, surveying the madness around him. "This is the future."

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