Sunday, 17 October 2010

Shipwrights winning the jobs struggle with Barstewards, this is not a blog and other Sunday rambles.

Once again not much in the way of local news on the Thanet blogs this week, I notice the Isle of Thanet Gazette has dropped its thoughtful blog spot this week, perhaps because we had nothing much to say.

Looks like Tony Bignews is trying to get a reaction from Simon Moores here

Story of the week goes to the Gazette this week, their website is crawling so I will do the link later, how the various bureaucrats in local government can waste their time deciding if it is a good idea to put a roundabout at the other end of Margate seafront is beyond me.

The slipways development business seems to be attracting almost universal opposition, though what is interesting to me is how many people avoided actually criticising the design as unattractive.

It is very difficult to criticise contemporary art or architecture, this is the closest to come out of TDC that I have managed to find:

“The underlying reason why Ramsgate Harbour is so visually satisfying is the harmonious relationship between the harbour structures and the boats that populate it. Ocean-going ships display no features that are not essential for their efficient operation. Likewise, the structures that make up the harbour, the Lighthouse, Clock House, Obelisk, Magazine etc, are made up of simple ‘platonic’ forms, cubes, cylinders etc. The design of the proposed building is one of a series of colliding fractured forms. This would be totally at odds visually to the rest of the Harbour and considerably to it detriment.”

Plenty on the shipwrights v barstewards side of the issue but very little on the building being ugly, the nearest most people seem to get is something like “nice design, but not in our harbour.”

This business over contemporary art and architecture is a difficult one, I posted about it earlier in the week at and I sometimes wonder if the distinction between contemporary art and modern architecture, isn’t the best place to start.

In terms of actual buildings I think on the whole architecture has not progressed from modern to contemporary.

If you make the distinction that art assumes the artist will take materials and produce something whereas the architect puts his ideas on paper and other people construct it.

As I said a comment on the post.

“Hi Sixtus you hava mi lucre.”
“Mea culpa Ghirlandaio, Bernini he say he painta alla Cappella Sistina”
“Mama mia suba contractor”

So I have to take it that Tracy Emin produced a piece of contemporary architecture with the neons.

Mind you the ten grand commission on the deal suggests that some of us are in the wrong business.

Sorry I digress, the problem here is one of aesthetics, in the west we are in a fix to start with, as language and therefore our thought structure is platonic. By this I mean that it is much easier for us to decide if something is logical than to decide if something is good.

This seems to produce, for the most part, those who say contemporary art or architecture is all good or all bad.

With modern art this is not so bad, one has terms of reference but when it comes to contemporary art, to make the judgment that this piece is better than that piece, very difficult.

I can handle, “this is not a blog” but am still having difficulty with, “this is a chicken”

Back to the blogs, Mr Earplugs has the news that Kent International Airports bosses are coming to Thanet see

In a way the whole airport expansion thing is just another, only in Thanet story, as anywhere else it would be the subject of a public enquiry, this is not based on being for or against the expansion but purely on the size of it.

Simon Moores has a pleasant local history post, see this glances on Cliftonville becoming a conservation area.

I would say to the good people of Cliftonville, make sure it extends all the way to the sea as the developers are looking at the vacant sites on the foreshore, especially look for any wiggly lines going round sites between the cliff and the sea.

Here in Ramsgate we have had years and years of the Pleasurama nondevelopment, with the prospective view from the cliff top of acres of ribbed grey rubber it is likely to become known locally as Cardy’s Condoms.

At least if the site is in a conservation area you stand a chance of getting something in keeping with the area.

Back to the slipways development, Ramsgate Town Council decided to object to it this week. I wonder if there comes a point with any developer where they decide to go along with the wishes of local people, in this instance I would say that is improving the boatyard facilities there.

Would there be a lot less money in a £2m state of the art boatyard than a £2m bar complex I wonder.

Mark Nottingham has only put up the notice of the death of Roy Ford this week, so there is only sad news coming from the Labour camp this week.

There is a rumour going around that Mark may not be standing for re-election as a councillor next year, perhaps because he intends to stand in the next general election.

I am still working on the oil bunkering issue in The Queens Channel 5 miles off Margate, despite reassurances from The Port of London authority, pumping two million tons of oil between ships, in a marine conservation zone seems unusual to me.

There doesn’t seem to be any restriction on the weather that they can do this in that I can find, which as the dedicated oil spill response capability in the Port of Ramsgate, seems to consist of The Thanet Fisherman’s Association and fishing boats can’t put to sea in very bad weather, well you could say I have my concerns.

There is a rumour that a chunk of St Augustine’s Monastery (picture above) in Ramsgate has been sold to The Landmark Trust, the Landmark Trust already run Pugin’s Grange.

The rumour, and it is only that, is that the monks for some reason didn’t want to sell it to the Landmark Trust, who had already made them a reasonable offer, so they spent a considerable amount of money putting it on the market through an agent who sold it to the trust.

I shall probably ramble on a bit more.


  1. Its always pleasant to read your Rambles Michael. I must say I know nothing of this oil bunkering at sea? where did this pop up from?

  2. "but when it comes to contemporary art, to make the judgment that this piece is better than that piece, very difficult."

    Not difficult, really, just pointless. Art is simply a language, and different artists employ different visual languages to explore a theme or idea. We don't need to compare art in the same way that we don't need to like a piece of music more than another. We should be able to appreciate works for different reasons and in different ways. Even hating a work can be interesting.

    You only have to look at TDC to realise that life isn't all beauty. It's complex, broken, incoherent, sublime, and ridiculous. In TDC's case we can ignore the "sublime".

    I find architecture harder to gauge in that it also has a specific function that must be met. The architecture proposed for the slipway fails, for me at least, not because I like it or don't like it, but because it has no relationship to the harbour. I'd be happy for it to be super contemporary and challenging, providing it comments on or extends the visual dialogue already present in the harbour. When the sun is setting the red brick of the arches and buildings has an amazing quality to it. Any new building should be able to operate within that scene and even enhance it.

    I have no idea how much a building like that would cost to design and build, but I see no reason why Ramsgate shouldn't have world class architecture. It's as deserving as any other place we could mention. Certainly more important than the Olympic Village in Stratford.

  3. Suggest you read again Michael, as much of that post is about the erosion of democracy, delegation of power and failure of both elected representatives and the local press to explain the pros and cons of East Kent Shared Services.

    Nothing much to say indeed, the reference to Simon Moores has to do with the inconsistency of his backing for the councils attempt to curb blogging councillors and yes having been so pompous about that and then making a flippant remark at my expense when proposing to exclude public, strikes me as hypocrisy.

  4. I'm afraid Tony is talking through his hat once again. I have been nothing but consistent in my support for what is described as a blogging protocol for councillors. If you happen to read it then you'll find a concise and simple document drawn up by the head of legal services as a reference point that describes the obligations of a Councillor under the code of conduct.

  5. The problem with covering multiple subjects in the same post, is the variety of replies. Here is mine on bunkering.

    As I understand it, legislation covering licensed and monitored at-sea bunkering in UK 12 mile waters is still at the consultation stage.

    Bunkering in the Queens Channel, which is in the Port of London Authority (PLA) waters and movements to and from this anchorage require an estuary pilot to be on-board. The PLA can stop the fuelling if they consider it unsafe to proceed due to weather conditions. The International Convention on Oil Pollution , Preparedness, Response and Co-operation Convention (OPRC) regulations require ports and harbours to have an approved oil spill contingency plan which includes a risk assessment and the provision of oil combating equipment commensurate to the identified risk. Bringing the bunkering operation within the PLA waters brings under their responsibility.

    If bunkering in Tongue Anchorage Holding Area which is just outside the PLA waters and the above conditions would not apply.

    Prevention of oil spills would be the object in both cases, but accidents can and do happen.

  6. Don I did a post on this the other day see it is one of those things locally that needs keeping an eye on.

    As I suppose does any company in the area engaged in something potentially hazardous. At the very least when a multinational starts engaging in a multimillion $$ business in the area, then there is a source for local sponsorship and at the worst well we want to know the risk, that said it is important the council, harbour authority etc have their eye on the ball.

    Data Hoover it would be a very difficult world if some art were not more equal than other art. Perhaps like was the wrong word, but at the moment the only other scale appears to be pay.

    The trouble in this instance is that we the public are being asked to pay, perhaps for something that we cannot like and in a language that some people don’t understand.

    With the slipways development it is surrounded by architecture that mimicks classical styles, the Pav trying to be an Adam orangery, the Custom House with its Ionic columns, Pier Castle with its turrets.

    I have always taken the waterfront architecture this bit of Ramsgate as sort of elitist joke that started with the Pier Castle, probably the oldest building in Ramsgate that isn’t listed.

    I suppose for an architect to be successful in this area it is necessary to first understand the joke.

    Tony I have and I think the point here is that it wasn’t Simon whose decision it was to exclude the public, just his job to clear the meeting, but like you I do think the local government should be much more transparent.

    Simon I can’t find the blogging protocol for councillors only the draft protocol on blogging$HP105.doc.htm

    and of course your marvellous typo the daft protocol on blogging at

    Joking aside, there is another side to councillors blogging and that is responsibility to us the electorate as our representatives and this is missing.

    What I mean here is some sort of councillors’ blog that tells us about what the council is up to, I suppose a sort of team effort by our councillors who presumably between them read all of the reams of information that the council produces and must be best placed to produce some sort of summery of the important bits.

    8.28 you have to appreciate that what you get here is a Sunday ramble, tacked together during a normal family Sunday, bits written in different places often while waiting for children to eat up or some such thing, so a verity of subjects are inclined to come up.

    My understanding is that this arrangement is the result of the new legislation and I think it replaces an arrangement that was more risky but less intensified in one location.

    That said there seems to have been very little in the way of dialogue about this locally and aspects of the operation are difficult to understand, most particularly why it isn’t being carried on adjacent to a port with a tug that can get quickly to any problem.

  7. Bunkering in the Queens channel.
    The question of what oil pollution equipment is held at ramsgate port is fairly superfluous.The bunkering activity is done under the aegis of the port of London authority, whom we assume are earning nicely out of it, and any counter pollution measures would be their responsibility.In the event of a spill it would all end up nicely on Margate beach and the responsibility would be TDC’s who took 5 years to draw up their oil pollution plan and they don’t have any equipment but they know a man who does.

  8. Anonymous is right, there are too many subjects in this post. This will be my last comment.

    On the art front, I don't think artists should be commissioned to make art that the majority of people like or understand. That would be a disaster in terms of quality. Plus, I think you are under estimating how many people do understand and appreciate contemporary art. And that brings me to the real issue with projects such as the Turner Centre. Which is, who is it for? The primary purpose is to attract people from outside of Margate who appreciate art and who will then potentially invest in and regenerate the town. It's a long term goal. So, yes, the local public may wonder why should we pay for it, but the benefit will come later, regardless of whether an individual appreciates the project.

    The only problem with this scenario is that TDC are promoting low flying jumbo jets over Ramsgate while also professing to want to regenerate the area. The over all vision is flawed.


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