Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turner Penultimate

not the final design but gives idea of scale

As ever, this is a highly subjective account of a public meeting and may well be a complete travesty of the truth.

Despite being advertised as a public meeting, tonight’s Turner contemporary was not entirely as egalitarian as you would first imagine.

Big irritation, at the door you were asked, if you had been invited or not (this had been billed as a first come first serve event) as with much of life, I realised at the entrance, that as ever, there are those who travel business class and those like me, who travel economy, I was lucky I suppose I wasn’t dispatched, out the back of the fire exit.

As you can expect I made a mild protest but I know my place. Still things got a bit more egalitarian as I stumbled into the reserve seating by accident, social systems can be so difficult, thing was, having been told that reserve seating was dotted about, I misunderstood I think rows two and three had reserved at either end indicating a no go area for the likes of me. Still only the front row had individual names, I thought it a bit strange, when Sandy Ezekiel and Roger Latchford seemed to be networking either side of me.

Once all the bigwigs were seated the show got going introduced by Amanda Honey (KCC), first up, a well practiced reprise of how we got here, from Mike Hill the usual Parallels’ to Bilbao and Tate St Ivel – Ives (what do I know), how before the gallery arrived, there had been no demand for CafĂ© Society and now post gallery everything was hunky dory (probably true).

Victoria Pomeroy gave us an enthralling talk about the multiple wonders, which await us, sadly, this is somewhat wasted on the inferior Flaig brain and was interpreted in my head as so much waffle about art (in a Homer Simpson sort of way). Once this magnificent building is a reality and I’ve been exposed to culture I shall be a better more considerate person. Any way thus far, Victoria Pomeroy I believe has reached out to the local community and that’s presumably the biggest part of her job.

A quick digression, mention was at some stage made of local artist, Tracy Emin now her name came up recently, with some toffs complaining in the media about Tracy representing Britain in Venice at some show, since a lot of modern art is er, a mystery, I say good luck to her, I don’t know whether she’s talented or not but its good to see local people succeed. Having heard her speak about that exhibition, I think she is a genuine.

Now for those of you who were not present, next up was David Chipperfield who prefaced his remarks with his conviction that Turner was the best British artist ever, he spoke with quiet authority of someone, who actually knows what he was talking about, which is quiet refreshing.

Now despite the trails for this event in the local media, we still haven’t as David was careful to point out got the final plans, also he mention that the consultation element to the design process was “uncomfortable” and said they would be back sometime in the autumn with a more finished product.

David Chipperfield after the presentation

At the end of the show there was a question and answer session, this was a lot better than some and for the most, intelligent and unusually well mannered. Amongst the crowd were the usual participants, Iris Johnson asked a question referring to her earlier involvement, Clive Hart also piped up adding his praise for the project.

I must admit that after sitting in the “Reserved Seating” and doing a bit of hob –nobbing, with Thanet’s great and the good it seems a bit ordinary sitting here cranking this stuff out.

Some of those also in attendance Roger Gale, who spoke, Alex King KCC deputy who appears not to be in America this week, Richard Samuel chief exec, Derrick Harding Margate regeneration Supremo (had a quick chat) even noted that the Gazette had dispatched one of their whippersnappers to cover the event, so for the fact you’ll probably have to await the Gazette or maybe the Extra later in the week.

Finally I had a quick word with Mr Chipperfield and got the impression that he seems a fairly straightforward no bull sort of person, afterwards I was struck by the thought that my comments were probably complete bollix but he was kind enough not mention it. I have to face facts sometime, tomorrow I shall probably being doing something creative, with a shovel, he with a pen.


  1. Nice write-up, Tone. I couldn't attend due to a sprained tendon. That's my story anyway.

    So without having had the benefit of all the bullsh*t, er, presentation, all I can say is it looks like a public khazi on steroids.

    Bilbao it ain't. Tate St Ives it ain't. I've been to both.

  2. I've been to neither, I have taken the liberty of placing a plug on your site, sorry comment, No plug

  3. I'm shocked that a man of your stature is not given the VIP treatment as one Margate most influential bloggers, shame on Sandy

  4. Speaking of 'first come, first served', were there nibbles?

  5. Thanks for the write up. It doesn't look very inspiring As ECR says it certainly isn't Bilbao - no shine to it at all

  6. Thanks for your entertaining write up of the Big event(which I also attended on Sunday) and of yesterday's even bigger event. I agree with ECR that it does look rather as if Margate are getting a Richborough Power Station Mark II. How anyone can claim that the concrete lump in any way enhances the Margate skyline I can't imagine. Even the buildings designed by the two finalists in last week's "Apprentice" were more adventurous and original.

  7. Ghastly to add a lump of grey concrete; (there will be no windows on the top floor at all - to protect the *loaned* artwork), to Margates beautiful old school skyline. The only thing it will match will be Arlington house. It looked as if it will be a lot smaller than the money they are going to spend would suggest too.

  8. Much was made by the director of the gallery/museum/cafe, whatever, about working with local children and colleges, are they a school and teachers of some kind too!? Amazing diversity of approach, one wonders if they're floundering....

  9. Close the road along the front. Pedestrianise everything from the clock tower to the Arlington arcade.
    Run the road along the back of Dreamland through and round the site, revitalising not only Arlington house and surrounds where the road would join up with the main road by the station but also the giant unused space at the back.
    Get rid of the old rusty railway (sorry). Grass and flowerbeds everywhere. (Cheap).
    Thankyou, Mark Hewins.

  10. As usual, half of the comments we're seeing are totally inaccurate. There will be windows on the top floor - in the form of skylights, but the lighting must obviously be much more controlled on the top floor to ensure that they have the right conditions to show precious works of art.

    For an accurate commentary on last night's proceedings try Turneround

  11. Aha 'accurate commentary' (Victoria Pommery, director of Turner Contemporary to reiterate the Turner vision. She estimated that 130,000 visitors would visit in an average year)
    Er... Ok see you in 2009 or 10? or when exactly?

  12. Jon, sorry to say your blog reads like an advert for the offical party line. You might like to ask some of the folk who work on other government artistic projects in our community what they think of TC's 'outreach' work, (to little to late) and in turn you might like to ask them what they think of the outfitters saga. I find it amusing that TC can draw or should that be spin parallels with Tate St ives, my point being St ives is a town which had over 200 years of active artistic history before Tate St ives was commissioned. You can't shoe horn or graft on 'culture' and expect instant success (see the defunct museum of contemporary music) Tate St ives was a logical step for St ives. Margate rocks used to be a good thing, locals and not so local artists used the empty building to group together and show work. These events were very well attended and did what it said on the tin, when TC got involved it became internationalized, with a strict curatorial process, nothing wrong with these ideas in the right context, but it killed it stone dead with the numbers down to a trickle. A case running before you can walk. I do believe its still a good idea, a contemory art gallery in Margate, but the implementation and strategy has been terribly misguided and alienating. As Mr Eastcliff has pointed out we deserve better, much better.

  13. Since the start it has been said that we aren't going to be allowed to borrow Turners from the Tate Gallery as we aren't considered to have the adequate security. I am wondering how much Victoria Pomeroy is earning every year that we don't have a Turner 'without a Turner' centre? Yes she might consider the number of visitors, but when you have lots of schools locally looking for enforced outings.........here are your figures!!

  14. Interesting that the problem of flooding was taken into consideration, Jon. Designers of the proposed blot on the former Pleasurama site please take note.

  15. I can see why you think I'm towing the TC line, but its not. I'm totally independent - and would welcome any submission from you or others who want to write something from the opposite viewpoint.

    I don't think enough is being done to strengthen the existing art community (which is something that some of us intend to do something about). I want to see more done to involve encourage other art organisations in the area.

    I strongly believe that TC is the right thing for the area though - so forgive me if supporting the scheme is seen as tantamount to blindly accepting everything that comes our way.

  16. Dear jon

    I have to say that most people who attended the meeting last night were of the opinion that this gallery, can only be positive for the area. Now if I might address the anonymous contributor Jon (who rather cheekily adds a link directly to his site) claims to have an accurate commentary, would you Jon like what if anything is inaccurate in my report. I admit I gave disclaimer at the top but whats troubling you or more to the point whats inaccurate?

    I admit it, I have omitted, to link Turneround Margate an oversight now rectified but please don’t place links in the comments section without asking or at least being apologetic since its bad etiquette. Whilst I’m at it, I have not commented on your blog for the rather spooky reason, that despite your anonymity you insist, others reveal their identities by supplying an email address before allowing comments!

    Just enquire with ECR whether I would use any blatant plugs for this site. Outreageous!

    Modest as I am, Bignews Margate was first off the mark on this one and the best by far!

  17. How will the 130,000 vistors get to Margate's new art centre as the high speed train in 2009 will only save 11mins on the current journey time from London etc, and the rest in cars will be presumably stuck in a traffic jam at Westwood Cross, especially when all the new houses are built. And where will all the additional cars park in Margate as the car parks are already being utilised by TC's worker's cars on their free permits!!

  18. Tony - sorry about 'link etiquette' will ask you next time - though you'll find on most blogs its pretty much accepted that comments are used for people to find other links of a similar nature.

    I only mentioned accuracy because I had posted audio recordings - it wasn't intended as a dig at your post, which was a decent read.

    I'll review my comments policy, but as far as I'm concerned I'd rather ban 'anonymous' comments to maintain a decent quality and prevent the problems that other thanet bloggers have had.

  19. No one has mentioned that the projection on visitor numbers to TC has shrunk from 150,000 per year to 130,000. Who is pulling these figures out of the hat? I am just a philistine but what gives the arty farty gang the right to almost demand these vast sums to support modern art? What is wrong with the great tradition of painters producing their work in drafty garrets in poverty until its good enough to sell? As has already been mentioned artistic revival is a grassroots up process not a costly big project using taxpayers money downwards.

  20. Went and listened to Wendy Allen on Turneround Margate and of course her voice representing the mass of Thanetonians was a lone voice in the wilderness to be argued down by all those with a vested interest in TC from Cllrs involved in the £6m debacle so far, to Outfitters style people who see it as a money spinner for them, to Pomeroy ( a job for years with no gallery to direct; she should be awarded the lomg Service Medal for Directing a concept)and Ezekiel because you cannot admit that the emperor has no clothes on can you.Its worrying when Wendy, just an ordinary Thanetonian, claims that the vast majority of Thanetonians dont want the bl***y TC and has sampling evidence to back her claim, is shot down in flames in public. I suspect that like Brown and the EU, Ezekiel and co dare not ask the people of Thanet if they want it, because they already know the answer they will get. Time will no doubt prove to us all what a costly farce this will have been.

  21. As a working professional Sound designer, Composer and Musician, (worldwide), who lives locally I wrote a formal letter of introduction to Ms Pommery over a month ago.

    I had been introduced (by Miria Swain an assitant curator from Oxford) to the 'soundartist' who had been comissioned (from Estonia) to install his work on the seafront as per the publicity for the >arrivals series for 'contact' with local artists. She has strongly suggested I contact Ms Pommery if I had any 'ideas' as she put it.

    Although no reciprocal arrangement was forthcoming from Estonia for any of the local Artists from here I was promised some sort of involvement there (a festival inclusion, or something). I heard nothing apart from the fact a festival was arranged subsequently without my knowlege so I was not able to even submit work for consideration.

    So, I offered to present to her board and directors a realistic concept to draw ALL the local people (of whom I am one) directly into the building of the Turner Contemporary. However I have not even had the courtesy of an acknowlegement, as yet. I will let you know when, or if, I do.
    Thankyou Mark Hewins

  22. What do you expect, Mark? she is a director of a Chipperfield wooden block at the moment so you shouldn't be surprised that she has no time for local artists. If the block doesn't turn up in concrete by 2010 she has a problem.

  23. As Promised;
    After sending a 'round robin' mailshot, as a reminder, I was called today by a curator from Turner wanting to arrange a meeting so I can a least pitch my idea to them. Watch this space.
    Thanks for the oxygen of publicity Thanet Bloggers, and all the other local well wishers. I will do my best to include everyone whether chav, eastcliff, or even disinterested. I think/hope you will all like what I will be proposing to Turner Contemporary!
    Cheers all, Mark Hewins

  24. First time I have found this blog (thanks Google). I dont think most ordinary Thanet people want the Turner centre and the certainly dont want the carbunkle that has been designed. The very first idea that I heard all those years ago was to place the centre in the old Sea Bathing Hospital. Now that I did approve of but its too late now and we have already wasted many years and millions of pounds. Theo in Birchington.