Saturday, 4 July 2015

Review with photos of the Christopher Alexander Exhibition at Turner Contemporary, Painting and drawing in Ramsgate and Margate, from The Oak Hotel Ramsgate, The Sands Hotel Margate and Bentley's Margate

Here are the photos of the Christopher Alexander Exhibition and my thoughts.
 This is the one that inspired me so much on Thursday that I got diverted into sketching the same building and forgot to take the photos.
 This view is up near the school for the deaf in Margate, the building on the left is still there and the one on the right isn't.
 something a bit Renoirish about the middle sketch in particular
 Margate pier destroyed in the 1970s by a storm

 Margate Sun Deck

 Note the lighthouse, more on this later in the post


 Margate old town

 Self portrait of Christopher Alexander, I think

Margate Old Town, the lamp gone, most of the rest is still there I think.

OK a go at a review of sorts, this painting, drawing, sketching, is something I try to do, rather badly and Christopher Alexander did rather well, I think.

The logistics of this sort of work around this area is so complex that it brings you much closer to even the great artists, if you go out painting and drawing. There is getting the weather right, finding a spot in the shade with the light behind you and if there is much wind it’s not good in your face. There is the seagull problem, drunks and so on the negative side. The interaction with other people which is a bit variable but mostly good, the karma that goes into the artwork perhaps.

Christopher Alexander is very much an artist of national acclaim painting and drawing the area around the gallery in Margate, so that you can go and look at some of the things that he painted drew, the views are still there and what has gone adds to the significance of the pictures.

Juxtapositioned against the Greyson Perry exhibition, which I think is the busiest one Turner Contemporary has ever had, I would say that it is well worth travelling a distance to the gallery to see what’s on there at the moment.

The descriptions of the pictures are mine and entirely relate to memories and what other people had to say, I haven’t done any research so there may be errors.

There will also be connections in this next bit which is illustrated with some of my painting and drawing done this week.   

My take here is there is only so much you can do with visual art in terms of either or review or criticism, before you have to move into your own visual art albeit not very good, it is in these terms that the rest of this post is also part of the review.  


I started painting at about 6 am at The Oak Hotel Ramsgate, a cup of coffee there and made a bit more progress with the watercolour painting I have been putting together from there before work during this week.


 Obviously I am not a commercial artist painting to sell pictures, this painting of Ramsgate illustrates this very well I think, as one of the main buildings in the picture, I think it was called The Royal Sailors Rest. When I first knew it was it was Ramsgate’s main ship chandler, when I went there as a boy, having bought a very ancient dingy that needed rope to rig it, the two gentlemen there closed their shop and helped me with the rigging, not something one forgets. Oh sorry rambling a bit here. This building which is wrapped up in scaffolding at the moment, so it isn’t in the picture and I assume commercially its inclusion would be a selling point. In practice scaffolding poles are much more difficult to paint because they are so thin.

So the only reason I get up at 5am in the summer and go painting and drawing is because I enjoy doing it, with the Christopher Alexander Exhibition there is for me a powerful sense of him enjoying painting and drawing.

While on the subject of this painting, I am getting fatter, so have had to drop breakfast and because I have children, where other meals are social occasions, so they learn not to eat their peas with a knife, it’s a shame really.

I used to be able to eat unhealthy food and stay thin, back in the time when bookselling was reasonably profitable my favoured restaurant  was Roules, when I didn’t eat at the club, the club charter booksellers used was ROSL and they aren’t stingy with the portions either.

Oh yes I can’t stress the how courteous and accommodating the staff and patrons of The Oak Hotel have been on the mornings of this week, while I only buy coffee and get this seat with such a fine view of Ramsgate.  

It was an inconvenient seagull this morning, missed the painting by inches but got my shirt and they immediately appeared with equipment to deal with the result of a very inconvenient seagull.

Anyway the rain clouds appeared and I went on to take the photos of the Christopher Alexander Exhibition, so I could write or possibly paint about it. By the time I had driven to Margate the sun was blazing down.


Here is the picture of Margate Museum that going to the Christopher Alexander Exhibition on Thursday inspired, but the distraction of sitting in The Cupcake Café painting the picture caused me to forget to go back and take the photos.

Having done this and enjoyed the exhibition again, I was inspired to draw Margate again, and this time it was the ferris wheel I wanted to to draw, but in a way that it has a recognisable bit of Margate in the drawing too.

To do this I had to find a seat, in the shade, with the sun not glaring into my eyes, ah reader I do hope you are binging to understand the complexity of the daubers doings.

I decided after a perambulation, that it would have to be the clock tower, here is the view.
Sorry about the picture, waving your mobile phone over your head and using the cropped result is an inexact science.

As you see the balcony of The Sands Hotel was where I needed to be, so off I toddled and armed with wonderfully cool Coca Cola on the balcony there, I started to draw this. 


The clock tower is fairly easy, but getting the Ferris wheel roundish was much more luck than judgement, so I hoped to finish this one over lunch, when alas tragedy struck. The sun rose over The Sands Hotel, my head being the first target, there is no shade there and the boiling brain having bent the final spoke, snapped me out of the mesmerised state caused by drawing. So no lunch at The Sands Hotel for me.

I was then very lucky, as on the other side of Margate High Street is Bentley’s and the seats outside had both shade and a view.

Something that it is ok to eat if you are overweight and need one had to draw with is ham salad without dressing, because you don’t want add the calories or get oil on the paper you are drawing on.


The ham salad provided by Bentley’s of Margate is one fit for a king and the pot of tea was perfect, the price £5.50 for the salad and £1.40 for the pot of tea, so highly recommended.

 Here is the view, which proved a bit too demanding before I had eaten the salad


As you can see the tops of the windows went wrong. Anyway the sun struck again and I had to move on. 

I also realised that what I need was to find some books for my bookshop, I did find a marvellous hand coloured Turner print of Margate in Paraphernalia in the old town. Had it been one of Ramsgate I would have bought it and if you collect old Margate prints it is a very reasonable price.  

Now to get across more of what the daubers doings are about we have to change gears here a bit.

Yesterday evening while my children swam about in the sea, I huddled behind beach hut on Westbrook beach, peering around the edge of it with the wind blowing in my eyes trying to draw the view of Margate and its pier and its lighthouse, on the first page of a new sketchbook. Someone one said to me that if a sketchbook started with a bad sketch the whole thing would be bad and this myth lurks in my mind like the square root of minus one, waiting to niggle me.


As you see the lighthouse is leaning and from this point on nothing went well. 

Back to today, after my sketching in Margate, I drifted into several of the numerous commercial galleries and encountered a picture of the same view with Margate Lighthouse leaning, this made me feel a lot better about my new sketchbook, which also contained a roundish wheel with only one spoke bent in the sun goddesse’s furnace. 

Looking at the fine Turner print in Paraphernalia of the very same view from Westbrook beach I realised that against all the odds Margate Lighthouse had a bit of a lean.

Finally I toddled back to Turner Contemporary to look at The Christopher Alexander Exhibition again, a second look and not one where you are trying to take pictures without initiating gallery rage.

Well straighten my crooked photo of Christopher Alexander’s painting of Margate Pier and Lighthouse.


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