Thursday, 30 June 2011

Art, sea and sandwiches in MARGATE

The Turner Contemporary opened in April this year - a large, modern building on the seafront - marking the very place where JMW Turner frequently stayed in a lodging house throughout his life. Turner had spent time in Margate as a child, and continued to visit often. A number of his paintings, watercolours and sketches feature part of the Kent coast, particularly Margate - and Turner was said to have remarked that ' the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe'. (Thanet is just along the coast from Margate.)

Today, grey clouds loom above the vast expanse of sea, a couple of fishing boats bob about in suspense and a strip of coloured warehouses stretch out, masking the horizon. An overwhelming stench of whelks wafts about the muggy heat of the day, yet still tourists queue for a punnet of shellfish.

Entering the Turner Contemporary is little like opening a door into another world, a world away from the rough and ready streets of Margate, where crime rates are the highest in Kent. The big sun-like window looks out to sea, and people who like like they've just stepped off Brick Lane wander about gazing at work through their thick-rimmed professor-esque glasses.

The gallery plans to show changing exhibitions, and will always have one of more Turner works. This exhibition (Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens) is inpired by Turner's 1815 painting of a volcanic eruption in the Caribbean. A range of work is shown in each part of the gallery, and all exudes incredible beauty and sentiment.

Douglas Gordon's texts appear on the main stairs - the final words uttered by Turner 'The Sun Is God' are played with to express the possibility that 'some things are better read than said'.

Ellen Harvey's installation ARCADIA is dazzling and reflective; a projection of the sea onto a long white wall swishing in and out of the shore and the sounds of the waves fill the room.

The most striking for me were the works of Russell Crotty, who - like Turner is fascinated by nature. Huge sketchbooks filled with large landscape drawings in colour, are scratched away intricately. Inspired by walking, surfing and observing the stars, Crotty uses words in his works to explain his thoughts and processes. Large, delicate paper globes hang from the ceilings, bearing drawings and hundreds of words from long walks and trailing thoughts.

Once you've looked around the shop at the front of the gallery, you can wander over to the Old Town and check out some of the extortionately priced Vintage shops, if you like. You could visit The Greedy Cow - a really lovely cafe selling delicious toasted ciabatta's - I recommend the Turkey, Stuffing & Cranberry Sauce... and nice glass of local (Chapel Down, Tenterden) wine.

So, don your candy-striped dress and get on down to Margate - there are some great retro furniture stores too!

Retro furniture:

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