Friday, 20 November 2009

Turner contemporary thoughts

After my visit to Margate yesterday I am now trying to compose my thoughts about the project into something that makes some sort of sense.

The only presence of the artistic side of the project one is aware of is in the droit house, and the only art on display there yesterday was the display of cardboard and glue project work by eight year olds.

As I have two eight year old children I was in a position to judge this better than most, one could for instance see those artworks that had received considerable adult help.

Some of the writing on the cardboard had obviously had been written out for the children to copy, putting words into the mouths of babes and sucklings type of thing.

The question that occurred to me was this expensively refurbished venue with expensive staff and appropriate venue to display a small amount of class work?

Particularly incongruous when the town can’t afford to open its museum.

The inside of the droit house consists of two small rooms the other contained a man at a desk with the inevitable pc apart from the photographs of the construction work see everything was very Spartan.

I would imagine in a world where bricks, tins of beans etc are art one has to be careful what one leaves about, lest the uneducated venerate one’s lunch, shopping etc.

So there was the man to explain what was or wasn’t art with nothing to explain, in that world this could have been an artistic statement; I took a walk upon the pier and saw some art that wasn’t there, type of thingy.

I mentioned to him how unfortunate it was that they were selling the car park, something with which he seemed to concur with.

I said how unfortunate it was that the new gallery is to be so small in terms of exhibition space, this seemed to surprise him, and he said most people seemed surprised how big it was. So I rambled on a bit about it not being big enough to attract enough people, this appeared to come as a surprise to him too.

A discussion about architecture then ensued, now I am loath to criticise something not yet finished but the discussion meandered about the problems that occur when architects are unfamiliar with our costal climatic conditions.

The principle aesthetic feature of the building is that it is to be coated with recycled glass, ostensibly to reflect the light. The problem for me has always been that this glass is not flat, which poses the awkward question how are they going to clean the salt deposited by the sea spray off of it, so that it continues to reflect the light.

Glass you understand is usually cleaned by a window cleaner with a squeegee, something that won’t work on the proposed lumpy surface.

He seemed to be a bit miffed about this too, so I went off in search of more culture in Margate.
The Turner Contemporary presence in the old M&S shop has gone now, even the jolly tiles have gone from the front making the building look somehow naked, strange really that they should not persue the continuity of atracting the art appreciating world in Margate.
I am afraid I never got as far as visiting the artistic attractions on the pier, it was pretty windy, the TC builders were having considerable problems erecting a Christmas tree despite having access to equipment not usually available to most of us on Christmas Eve.


  1. I really enjoyed this post, Michael. Thanks. It's interesting to speculate how £17.5 million of tax-payers money can be spent on a 'gun-emplacement'as a project to regenerate Margate, when facilities for our youngsters in Thanet are woefully inadequate.

  2. Bricktop said:

    Hence the expression as much use as long bean poles in Margit

  3. What is amazing is that there has been a director of the Turner centre for what must be nearly 8 years now at a cost to the local tax payer of over half a million pounds. Good old TDC sure knows how to waste our hard earned dosh.
    Another good one by the chief bean counter.

  4. Respect Anon 00.55

    The bean theme. If you try to grow your runners too high in Margate the wind will oft times blow them over.

    I also suspect that most young people in Thanet (or anywhere else) would know who Bricktop is and would reply "Do you know what Nemesis means"

    Try asking them who Turner was.

    If they are on a roll they might answer "Was he a guy on thin ice my pedigree chums ?"

    To avoid the TC idea remaining an ongoing subsidy burden to the public purse the concepts for the building's change of use (if it stays up) should be considered now.

    If Thanet practice solves the problem I can see the headline now

    "Turner earner burner"

  5. Hmm..I have been to many of the workshops that have been held by TC in various venues for the past few years,and it seemed to me that everyone children and adults alike have had a great time,and contary to what you say Michael the children were not "Led by the adults"in fact quite the opposite,everyone was encouraged to do whatever they wanted,with the result that the children prodused some fab things.The exibition that is on in Droit house is only a tiny sample of what the workshops have produced(all free)and as well as workshops for children they have a young teenage -adult group and "pensioners" group.Bertie it is'nt funded by TDC,but arts council,lottery,Kcc etc and they are making facilites for our youngsters etc through workshops and groups etc.Ann


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