Gavin Turk was born in Guildford, Surrey in 1967. He attended the Royal College of Art, in London. 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 which stated "Gavin Turk worked here, 1989-1991". This bestowed some instant notoriety on Turk, whose work was collected by Charles Saatchi. He has subsequently made work which questions the value and integrity of a coherent artistic identity.

Turk’s pieces often involve his own image disguised as that of a more 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 the leftist revolutionary Che Guevara.