Monday, 25 April 2011

Turner Contemporary Margate Revisited, some more photographs of inside the gallery, some criticisms and problems.

Every new project is bound to have teething problems and attract some criticism and David Chipperfield’s turner contemporary is no exception.

If you are not familiar with this art gallery I would recommend you first look at the pictures I took of the inside if it last week, here are the links to the pages with them on:

You may also wish to read my blog post about my first visit, here is the link

Today’s pictures are on two pages, unedited straight from the camera card, here are the links:

I had my two youngest children with me and the way things worked out I took them both into the building for the first time separately, they both said it smells like a swimming pool, I had a good old sniff and couldn’t confirm this.

I meandered around with David Hockney in the back of my mind, the pictures are all natural light, with the obvious compensation for tungsten halogen and fluorescent, some fairly low shutter speeds all hand held, I took a tripod but didn’t use it, lens focal lengths between 10mm and 55mm, 35mm camera, sorry about the dirt in it, it’s worn out and needs replacing.

OK here comes the criticism.

The road layout outside the gallery is dreadful, one near miss and one minor accident in the short time we were there. It is summed up as fast traffic on a road full of pedestrians that looks like a pavement with badly placed traffic lights.

The surface is very porous paving slabs that are already badly stained with the oil from cars passing over it during the last week.

Inside the gallery the polished stone like textured concrete floors, that so impressed me last week, have been damaged by using the wrong cleaning equipment, not sure if this is covered by the insurance, in some places quite deep circular grooves have appeared in the surface.

Parts of the gallery were too hot on what it is a sunny April day, I don’t know if the climate control was set wrongly or is inadequate. A mixture of very large windows and the conservation of valuable works of art may cause problems.

One thing about the TC is they are very quick to rectify some errors, “closed Monday except bank holidays” is now prominently displayed at the top of their homepage.

I will start my criticism of the aesthetic on home ground, from the shop assistant perspective and point out that books published at $25 USD are not usually priced at £25 Stirling, like wot they are in TC shop.

Next the first artwork: “Borrowing and Multiplying the Landscape” by Daniel Buren.

As this is art, here is a novices description, yellow stripes with a big round hole in the middle stuck to one of the windows, with lots of mirrors stuck to the walls each side.

We probably shouldn’t limit art by attaching names to it, but the stripes look a bit abstract to me, think Margate, think deckchairs and all that and the rest of course is all done with mirrors.

I was dead influenced by this work and have been playing with reflections since I first saw it last week.

The problem if anything is that Daniel Buren is just too good at this sort of thing, he has looked at the gallery space and considered what should be there, so that frankly when the exhibit is taken away, it’s going to look, well missing.

I don’t really see how having one art exhibit stuck there all the time is going to help the TC, I mean if some artist or rich bod donated them a major artwork they could play the swaps game with other galleries, but not this one, it fits where it is.

From the shop assistants point of view though, the question We find surfacing in the back of our mind, like “what is the square root of minus one” is. Is it great art or a very good start on a shop window display? Where are the goods?

One thing that I am certain of it is a particularly helpful exhibit to the photographer, like having an extra camera attachment, so thanks Dan. Or should I say, so long and thatnks for all the affichages sauvages.

There is a bit of sense of pulling no punches with this exhibition, in most cases the gallery hasn’t attempted to go for contemporary art that anyone can understand. This failure, I suppose is best expressed it terms of the failed magician, you know what I mean they haven’t gone out of their way on the sawing in half front, not even a solitary half mouse, let alone a cow.

I suppose the exception is "arcadia" by Ellen Harvey, the mundane explanation of this one is the shed within the shed. Outside the shed is something that could very well be waves projected light that could very well be particles, opposite an arcade sign. Inside the shed lots of black and light pictures of Margate.

Various engravers have had a bit of a go at Thanet and my favourite, Henry Moses, even drew a map showing where he had done the drawings for the engravings, no this isn’t a criticism, I aint saying “lacks map” and the work is certainly going down well with the locals.

There are people standing in front of the pictures saying things like. “I like that one.” Almost like being at Ramsgate’s great wall.

I thought of the gallery stairs.

I understand it therefore I like it.

I don’t like it because I understand it.

I don’t understand art therefore I like it.

I like it therefore I understand art.

Sorry lots on knots RD pass the couch.

Sorry about that I have put my shop assistant hat back on. Here in the books business a lecturer in literature postulated the notion of T S Eliot’s influence on Shakespeare, admittedly he did so in a humorous novel. However this was a problem for me, now the Turner and I have tried with this painting, but I just don’t think it is a very good Turner. One thing about though is it makes me think of the Turners that I do think are very good paintings, there aren’t many very good English artists and Turner is the exception rather than the rule, he is world class. So I found on both occasions, my mid swirl with colours, mostly goldish and surrounding some sort of focused Turnerish lump, you know the train funnel one with the viaduct exploding in Turnerishness.

Anyway this is the problem with the next exhibit “The Perfect Third” by Conrad Shawcross, the influence of Turner on Shawcross approached from the influence of E Harvey on Turner, the light that is.

So there I am with my camera playing with The Perfect Third trying to photograph the people exploding into Turnerishness.


I will ramble on if I get time I hope to criticise the artworks on display in this exhibition next.


  1. I have yet to go back but I definitely will become a visitor. Shame about the floor because it looked great. Love the pictures.

  2. Don I have been sticking up as many pictures as I can, I have asked several people recently if I should edit out the ones that aren’t any good, but it seems to be pretty much a unanimous no to that one.

  3. Ramsgate ResidentApril 26, 2011 8:48 am

    Thanks for the pictures Michael, you've saved me the cost of petrol to get to Margate. Unfortunately you have increased my blood pressure by making me realise just what I have been unwillingly forced into contributing to.

    Art has always been something mystical and distant to many "ordinary" people, but now they can come face to face with "it", I'm not so sure they will embrace it. Personally I find my thoughts are stimulated more by the fashionable tattoos etched into our local youth in an effort to express individuality. Surely this must be art, or does it need a multi million pound gallery to achieve that status?

    Good luck to Margate and the Turner Folly, but I have my reservation!

  4. RR Don’t corona out on us, you could still be paying for it with it sitting in another part of Kent.

    I take the view that as we have got it I’ll make the best of it.

    I will look out for your tattoos, I guess you are lucky to have a reservation, I had sort of assumed you Native Americans had mystical art but hadn’t realised it was distant from the ordinary members of the tribe.

  5. Ramsgate ResidentApril 27, 2011 6:39 pm

    You're right Michael, I should count my blessings; the folly could have ended up in Ramsgate and that would have caused me problems of a coronary nature.

    As for my reservation(s), I can't find a way of expressing them without fear of being Siouxed. And the Native American tattoos aren't Apache on the local variety when it comes to mental stimulation.

  6. These days, it is customary to seek the opinions of your customers as a way of determining whether you have been doing as good job.

    Now that the gallery is open the argument that we shouldn't be negative about it until we see what it looks like no longer holds. We can now see what £50 million of our money has bought us and we are entitled to say what we think.

    Since the Turner Centre (the costs of building and running it) was foisted on all of us we ought, now, to be given some means of giving our feedback.

    Most of the verbal feedback I have heard is unremittingly negative. If people don't think it is worth the money, they have the option of removing the Councillor who voted to build it next Thursday. Perhaps we need a list of how every existing Councillor voted? Perhaps it's simpler than that? Was there a Councillor who voted against?


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