All posts tagged 'Turner-Contemporary'

Curious Margate

by The Fly Away American (in Kent), with Jessica Galbraith Thursday, June 20 2013

This week I got to know the lovely city of Margate, a delightful seaside town with nostalgic charm and a promising future. I have been wanting to visit the Turner Contemporary Museum for some time now, and decided to combine it with a look around Margate's biggest attractions. I really love this town. The beach is wonderful, the history is even better, and there seems to be some kind of re-emergence in the air which is energizing as a visitor. My tour of Margate began at the Turner Contemporary but took me to the other 'curious' places in Margate as well including the Margate Shell Grotto, Margate Old Town, and the Walpole Bay Hotel. 

Turner Contemporary, Margate

The Turner Contemporary is currently exhibiting Curiousity: Art and Pleasures of Knowing. It is a quirky exhibit that explores the world of human curiousity through historical artefacts, art, and some really random displays. There are several Leonardo da Vinci sketches, (although they looked like doodles), a penguin that was collected by Ernest Shakleton on his Antarctic expedition, a very strange series on mysterious deaths that show corpses in miniature doll rooms, and much more weird and strange curiousities.  I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Turner Contemporary, and the Curiousity exhibit was one of the best I have seen in a long time. Don't miss the stuffed walrus, it is incredible! The Curiousity: Art and the Pleasure of Knowing exhibit is running until September 15, 2013. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm. Admission is free.

In the theme of the Curiousity exhibit at Turner Contemporary, several local businesses have joined in on the 'Curious Margate' tour. As you walk along the streets, any place that offers something strange or unusual is displaying a 'Curious Margate' window sticker to let visitors know there is something cool to check out. The main places that are recomended are Margate's historical Old Town, the High Street, Shell Grotto, and the Walpole Bay Hotel in nearby Cliftonville.

If you ask me, the Shell Grotto is a curioustiy of England, not just Margate or Kent. I had been to Margate's mysterious Shell Grotto before, and it never disappoints. There are over 3.6 million sea shells adorning the grotto walls, and nobody knows how or why they got there. A walk through the caverns to see these beautiful mosaics is just incredible. The Shell grotto wasn't discovered until 1835, and the efforts to date the shells or determine their origin have been inconclusive. If you visit one place in Margate, this should be it. The Margate Shell Grotto is one of Kent's coolest hidden gems. Admission for the Shell Grotto is a very reasonable £3, opening hours are from 10am- 5pm everday through summer.


My last stop was at the Walpole Bay Hotel, an Edwardian era hotel with a really neat  living history museum. The Walpole Bay Hotel is approximately a 20 minute walk from Turner Contemporary, along the coast. There are 4 floors at the Wadpole, and the hallways on each are overflowing with antiques from a bygone era. My first impression of the museum was that it was highly disorganized, items strewn here and there, stacked on top of each other in tiny rooms. This quickly grew on me though and became part of its charm. Expect to see anything and everything at the Wadpole Bay, closets stacked with dozens of old typewriters, nurse uniforms from World War I, old urinals, ancient sweepers, and even an assortment of gloves that cover 200 years of fashion pinned to the hallway wall. The highlight is the working elevator from 1927, which you can ride to the 3rd floor and see the mechanical workings at the very top. There are no tour guides here and the receptionist will kindly let you wander to your hearts content. The Walpole Bay Hotel Living Museum is open everyday, year round, from 10am-5pm.

If you are on a budget or just looking for a great day out in Kent, go explore the 'curious' of Margate. Most of the attractions are free, and an afternoon on the sandy beach is well worth the trip alone. This weekend the Margate Jazz Festival will be on, for the 8th consecutive year. See you next week for the next installment of my travels around Kent!


Turner Contemporary brings culture and cash to Kent

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, April 20 2012

It was good to see that nearly half a million people visited Turner Contemporary in its first year.

It was always a gamble going ahead with the £17m project but Kent County Council and arts funders recognised that culture can contribute to economic regeneration.

They looked at the example of the Guggenheim in Bilbao and hoped to replicate that transformation in Margate and East Kent.

Despite the cynicism of many locals, the early signs are encouraging. While the town centre may still leave something to be desired, there is evidence that new businesses are moving in, that restaurants are busier.

It’s early days, but you sense a greater buzz around the place.

Turner was not an instant success, and the big numbers may slightly flatter to deceive.

There will always be a strong interest in something new, and the fact that admission is free can only help. But the initial show was disappointing.

It was not uncommon to hear first-time visitors declare it would be the last time. Nice building and great seaside location, shame about the content, was a typical response. A single Turner was not enough to get the pulses racing. No wonder some London commentators were dismissive.

But The Kiss, the current exhibition of Turner drawings and sketches - Turner and the Elements - and the Hamish Fulton’s Walk gave the gallery a real artistic reason for visiting.

Turner C turned a corner with Turner J M W and the next big one - Tracey Emin - will bring even more national and international prominence.

The latest numbers for economic benefit to East Kent - £13.8m - are arguable as they contain £7.6m of publicity value derived from media coverage.

It is an uncertain valuation, but nevertheless, there is no doubt that coverage has brought, and will bring, visitors to Margate. This year, the international visitor numbers are relatively low - just 2% - and Guggenheim can surely beat that tiny proportion. But it’s a start. And trains will speed up after a £5m upgrade of the Ashford - Thanet track.

Cultural regeneration is a slow burn. There is srtill a long way to go but the early signs for the economy Margate and East Kent are encouraging.

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Categories: Business

Tracey's a great ambassador for her childhood home

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, December 30 2011

You may not like Tracey Emin but you have to hand it to her – she's a great flagwaver for her home town of Margate.

She guest edited the Today programme earlier this week and featured a piece on the town's economic revival and the importance of Turner Contemporary in that process.

Emin has not always been a good role model for young people. Her Turner prize-winning unmade bed with associated detritus was not to everyone's taste and did not endear her to traditionalists.

Her ripe language in some of her work also upset the purists, even though it's pretty commonplace to anyone listening to yoof chatter.

But things are changing. As she gets older, she is becoming less of a wild child, more an inspiration to a new generation, and more an ambassador for Thanet.

Despite a minor outcry – the lot of most artists while they are alive - she has just been appointed professor of drawing at the Royal Academy and pledged to donate her fees to students.

Young people can identify more easily with Emin than a stuffed shirt like bumptious art critic Brian Sewell who became a target for East Kent abuse after dismissing Turner Contemporary as a white elephant and Margate as Slough-on-Sea.

Emin also went back to King Ethelbert School in Birchington which fostered her love of art and still has a strong art department. She spoke to young people about their feelings about art and its importance to their lives. It was all good stuff and a positive perspective on a reviving East Kent. It might well encourage a few more visitors to the area in 2012.

And while on that subject, I wish you a profitable and healthy New Year.

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Categories: Business | Margate

Brian Sewell 's jaundiced view of the Turner Contemporary

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, April 15 2011

Turner Contemporary will not alone wave a magic economic wand over Margate and East Kent. But hopefully it will not be the “white elephant” grumpily predicted by one arts pundit. In combination with other projects, Turner will play a key role in reviving their fortunes.

The resurrection of Dreamland as a vintage fun fair and the proposed Tesco development by the unsightly Arlington flats will help. Renovation of rundown once elegant housing will also change perceptions. Faster rail services via a proposed Manston Parkway station will cut journey times to an hour - another incentive for people to visit, and perhaps stay and commute.

And if Kent’s finest but under-rated indoor entertainment space - The Winter Gardens - can be given a makeover, then Margate will have an abundance of regenerational riches. The other part of the jigsaw is a new hi-tech job-filled role for the Pfizer site.

Time is short and the Government needs to put ome money and action where its words are. Tomorrow’s (16) opening of Turner by Tracey Emin and Jools Holland is real cause for excitement. Of course, there are cynics. They were cynical in Bilbao before Guggenheim.

But look at what has happened to that Spanish industrial city since then. Business has flocked in. Real estate has soared. The river front is beautiful. And it will be challenge for TC to keep the money coming in once the Arts Council subsidies thin out. TC is not everyone’s cup of tea.

The art on display in the inaugural exhibition may not appeal to all tastes. But Turner’s volcanic eruption - painting on loan from Liverpool - is a highlight, Ellen Harvey’s etchings of Margate in the Arcadia exhibit are stunning, the mobile by Conrad Shawcross fascinating in its geometic patterns, and James Webb’s View of Margate from the Pier gives everyone what they probably came for.

And for those expecting wall-to-wall Turners, several will be on display early next year. Many locals have yet to be convinced that art will do much for the town, but once people and businesses come, they will change their tune. Some eighty national journalists are visiting Turner today.

I hope they don’t all convey the jaundiced view of Brian Sewell who wrote in yesterday’s Evening Standard that it would be a white elephant, that David Chipperfield’s creation was a “alien, brutal and bleak,” as “aggressive and threatening as a hyena in a sheepfold.”

Great lines but not helpful to TC’s sales pitch. Grumpy old Brian does not dwell much on regeneration and the Turner’s role in a jigsaw puzzle of projects that contribute to the whole package. Okay, the building may look a bit grey from afar, but it it blend into the maritime setting, offering those fantastic views so beloved of the painter.

It perhaps needs some artistic embellishments to the public-facing wall but to appreciate the building, you need to go inside to experience the light and airy rooms.

For all the carping, let’s celebrate a great addition to Kent’s cultural scene, the vision of John Croft who conceived it in the mid-90s, Lord Sandy Bruce-Lockhart and KCC for pushing it through despite setbacks and criticism, Westerham’s long-established builder Durtnell, and the trustees chaired by John Kampfner.

And for Victoria Pomery, the boss, her moment has come. She will never please all the people all the time. Like any managing director or CEO, it will seem lonely at the top. But it’s easy to knock the person who has to make the decisions.

You can be sure she will always do her best - and if she’s lucky, will satisfy most of the people most of the time – and make TC the catalyst for regeneration that we all want.

Categories: Business

A missed opportunity

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Thursday, December 9 2010

Two iconic Margate buildings highlight a misguided gulf in priorities.

Turner Contemporary, designed by top architect David Chipperfield, may look a bit odd outside but inside it’s bright, light and spacious.

Expansive views over the seascapes so beloved by Turner when he lived in Margate will amaze visitors. Yesterday’s handover ceremony - from Kent County Council to Turner Contemporary Trust - was held in front of huge windows giving the audience a remarkable ring-side view of waves lashing the sea wall.

It will be great to see the first Turner paintings – on loan from the Tate - hanging in the place they belong. KCC deserves plaudits for sticking to its plan to build an art gallery in Margate, and for having the courage to ditch the earlier near unworkable and costly gallery-in-the-sea model.

Backed by the nation’s art experts, the county’s Guggenheim will put Kent on the international cultural map and slowly transform East Kent’s economic fortunes. So it should, given the £17 million invested in a leap of faith.

Local cynics may say that sum should have been allocated to other worthy projects, but they said the same in Bilbao, and look what’s happened to that once - but no longer - rundown Spanish city But a few hundred yards away, languishes a building that should be a jewel in Kent’s entertainment crown. In contrast to the “eggheads” palace down the road, The Winter Gardens is the forgotten “people’s palace.”

Hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers and locals flocked through its doors for nearly a century. The place echoes with the sounds of legendary artists down the ages. You can almost hear the applause and singing at those colourful summer shows that rounded off a bucket-and-spade day.

Party political conferences were once held there rather than Blackpool, Brighton or Bournemouth. It is a superb venue, architecturally stylish, a large stage and an auditorium that lends itself to large award and corporate ceremonies as well as popular entertainment.

But it has been terribly neglected. It looks unloved. Its sea-facing wall is crumbling. The final straw was seeing staff rattling a few buckets after a performance of The Sleeping Beauty by Margate Operatic Society to help fund essential renovation.

A few 10p coins from Brownies, Cubs and pensioners will hardly dent the sums needed to give this venerable lady a new lease of life. Now public sector funds are squeezed, it will be hard to find the money.

But if £17m can be found for an art gallery, it should not be beyond the wit of KCC, Thanet council and investment companies to come up with a revival plan for a place held in great affection by both by locals and others well beyond Kent. The Winter Gardens is a special place and should not be left in the shade by that shiny new structure down the road.

If it is not listed, it should be. It may not be as highbrow as Turner but is no less respectable. It’s surely time to properly invest in this wonderful theatre of dreams – 100 years old next year - before it’s too late.

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Categories: Business

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