This year's obligatory row over the Turner prize for art has been kicked off by culture minister Kim Howells, who thinks the whole lot, exhibited at the Tate, "cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit." My own knowledge and understanding of visual art is too limited for me to make a judgement on the Turner nominees. But bigger questions are raised.
In all the arts there are fashions which work rather mysteriously, commercial pressures, and "arbiters of taste" - people employed to make decisions about, for example, who gets commissions, who makes a living, what reaches the public. According to