Margate holds great memories for me because as a child it was THE destination to go to. Oh how you could brag at school in September that you had been to Dreamland, eaten candy floss and paddled in Margate’s sea. It was ever so sad to return there years later and find the beautiful town in such decline.
The huge tower overlooking the seafront seemed to drag the town down even further and the sad closed up fish and chip shops, cafes and amusement arcades that lined the coast all boarded up and covered in graffiti didn’t help either.
So on our recent camping trip to Manston Caravan Park I was delighted to witness the busy rebirthing of the Old Town in Margate.
Hayley, my sister in law and I left the children with their dads for a child free afternoon and we drove off to have a look at the Turner Contemporary Gallery on the seafront which opened in April this year. It’s a beautiful white building with clean crisp lines and large open areas, the terrace outside dotted with colourful chairs to drink a coffee whilst watching over the busy beach in front. The entrance houses a massive art piece by Daniel Buren, the enormous window overlooking out to sea has been framed using his characteristic 8.7 cm vertical stripes to highlight spacial features and make us look at them differently.
My attention was quickly taken with the words written everywhere, even up the staircase making the walk up to the next gallery a thought provoking experience, Douglas Gordon inspired by Turner’s magnificent sunsets and the fact that on his death muttered ‘The Son is God’ has incorporated these thoughts into his work.
A fascinating room was given over to Conrad Shawcross, an exhibit in movement hung from the ceiling and the three ‘propellers’ turned as regular as clockwork going over and over the same movement tirelessly, centre to the room a bronze sculpture starting as a thin cone on the floor and as it rises spiralling beautifully out and finally in the opposite corner of the room drawings that seemed to be made with a classic spirograph. It wasn’t until we spoke to the lady on the door of the room that we discovered his work had been inspired by the Projections of a Perfect Third. We learnt that the perfect third is a musical chord that in the past was banned from churches and being played in public as its notes provoked intense emotions from whoever listened. He discovered the precise mathematical ratios represented by harmonical chords and represents them in his art.
Ellen Harvey’s work displayed in ARCADIA, a three quarter scale of the Turner Gallery in London depicting her hand engraved scenes of Margate around the room in the exact positions that Turner’s last exhibition was displayed. the type used for the word ARCADIA the same as the sign for Margate’s Dreamland amusement park.
And Russell Crotty’s paper globes hanging from the ceiling that on closer inspection reveal his written words of what he saw, felt, thought and heard as he walked along the landscapes depicted in his art.
I would thoroughly recommend a visit if you’re in the area and then to finish of the perfect Margate trip have a walk around the Old Town and discover the most fascinating shops, galleries, boutiques and eateries popping up all over and adding to the rebirth of this magnificent town.
We also popped into the Pie Factory and found a display of old postcards from post war times all of which had been deemed to mucky for either Ramsgate or Margate back in the day, all 128 postcards can be found in the Cartoon Archive catalogue I learnt that by buying 4 for £5.00 I was contributing to the regeneration of Dreamland itself and discovered there is a fabulous project underway to restore the Amusement park keeping the historic rides including the fully restored and working scenic railway. And rather than be a dry museum it will be a living, fun filled amusement park to enjoy with the family just like back in the day.
I for one can’t wait for it to open so I can relive my childhood fun trips.