Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Turner Complacency

Above from Turner Contemporary Facebook page
I'm indebted to Cllr Clive Hart (Leader of Thanet Council)  for inspiration on this blog post, having received an email reminder of what I could have enjoyed, had I been aware of, that being the projection of a poem by artist Lemn Sissay, who I assume is somewhat more accomplished in arranging words than I, anyhow it looked from photographs on Clive's Facebook page to have been a fantastic visual treat.

I have to admit that I dont know enough to tell when words become poetry, however I'm sure I'd have enjoyed the visual side of this event, certainly Cllr Hart's photograph's shows that this projection lifted the normaly bland monochrome appearance of the gallery into something special and sympathetic to Margate's brash gaudy heritage.

I regularly check out the Turner Contemporary website and have to say, that Gallery seems to run a selective or ineffective public relations/information strategy , although this event was not directly commissioned by the gallery, it was linked and should have been bigged up, a bit more than it was, speaking to the gallery bods yesterday, I mentioned I could find no reference and was pointed to a brief mention in the whats on section.

Looking at the "press" section of Turner Contemporary website, there seems to be a dearth of information, according to the list of press releases, since December 19th last year, nothing has been worthy of mention, such as Lemn Sissay or indeed, Jon Snow news presenter, officially opening the exhibition last Friday  (according to this weeks Thanet Times), an event one assumes to allow the top knobs to er hobnob, without risk of being exposed to us lower orders, who through patronage of the national lottery, and tax system  fund the gallery.

I appreciate that Turner Contemporary is marketed and promoted with a bit more panache than the odd email or press release, using social media such as facebook and personal contacts, but it doesn't seem, judgeing by a quick glance, at the main website, as if there has been any great excitement, over the arrival of Turner's elements.

No doubt some of you have an idea that I have a downer on the gallery, not so and get hacked off at the muppets who litter the letters page of the Isle of Thanet Gazette with simplistic views, however since to the best of my knowledge the gallery is publically funded, I just question why the gallery has been schtum about what was billed by the Guardian as the opening of Turner and the Elements on Friday 27th. Given that  John Kampfner is both chair of the Board of Turner Contemporary and Chief Executive of the organisation Index on Censorship, I can't help thinking that there is more than a hint of irony. Still that's my opinion, and since I like to think we're a bit more inclusive here at Bignews Margate, John Kampfner or anyone else can always correct me by making a comment.

Anyhoo remember that T C is part of local life, not just a curiosity for arty farty types from London so enjoy the elements a real treat I'm sure, and finally it's clear that the gallery has reached out to those locally who are receptive and this first year will have exceeded the projected visitor numbers, however I hope that people arent complacent for myself I think that T C will continue to succeed  but they cannot relax.

PS I may have been harsh taking a gander at TC's facebook pages, these seem more informative and active than the proper Website, me I don't really do facebook and as it gets more intrusive the less I like.


  1. Can't wait for the sequels Tony, "Turner Supremacy", "Turner Ultimatum" and "Turner Legacy"

    How do they do the light show? That does look interesting.

  2. Maybe you need to have a look at other Margate blogs more (there's not that many!). Margate Architecture gave this a plug on January 17th.

  3. I have not had either the time or inclination to read my own blog of recent, Peter, I do however as I stated take a regular look at TC's and feel it's lacking in information.

    Readit, I've probably milked Turner more than I should but pictures taken by Cllr Hart do make the gallery look better and had I been aware I would have driven home past the gallery after spending the day down some grim tunnel in London.

  4. Tony I think there is a bit of a problem with both publicity relating to events in Thanet generally and publicity relating to the Turner Contemporary specifically.

    I know there have been several events at the gallery where the only people there have been the staff or them and very few people.

    I think much of the problem falls at the feet of Thanet District Council, KCC and their approach to leisure events related information. The councils for instance have a dedicated website for publicising this sort of event

    So between them these two councils start a website to promote literary events in Thanet mostly centred on the Turner Contemporary, draw search engine traffic and therefore people who would attend these events.

    Now the website has only one future event listed, didn’t publicise the poetry event, in fact make the whole situation worse as people looking on a council run literary events website would assume that all of the council run literary events would be there.

  5. "has reached out to those locally who are receptive and this first year will have exceeded the projected visitor numbers"

    Just how are the visitor (or is it visits) numbers calculated? There's no turnstiles, ticketing or to my knowledge no CCTV at the entrance. Can one get these figures independently verified?

  6. figures verified ...of course not its called just make them up as you go along...don't suppose they list the evening visitors who like to meet up for their 'club' nights

    of course its not... a secret society just a society with secrets

  7. Spot on Tony. I, too, heard about after the event and couldn't find anything about it, not realising it was on Clive Hart's Facebook page, for goodness sake!

    It looked fantastic - just the thing to do with that horrible concrete facade. How was it done? Will it happen again? Will we ever get to find out?

  8. Just a quick one on the visitor numbers, Jeremy, these may well a little skewed, and I suspect that I'm not alone in having made multiple visits, which has been the case for each of the exhibitions so far, I guess the current one I might well go see a few times as well.

    Does that make the number less valid I don't think so, last year I visited the national gallery in Edinburgh, I went a second time, which I assume is not abnormal, therefore I guess if you compare with similar establishments such as other galleries and museums the figures are kosher.

  9. Michael I felt that Turner PR, Marketing, or indeed Communications could and should have enthused a little more at what I assume might well be their best exhibition and as I understand they have a dedicated staff member for PR Marketing and Communications.

  10. 10 23 The Lemn Sissay projection thingy was as I understand paid for by the arts council and Thanet Distric Council so re publicity on that score TDC has once again shown itself p*ss poor in communicating with us the taxpayer, which is as we know is a frequent criticism of Michael Childs with some clear justification.

  11. What about Turner and Hooch as a Sequel

  12. a great film 3 43 I couldn't improve on a classic