Saturday, 29 December 2007

The Shell Lady of Margate!

About six months ago I was pleased to hear there was a £50k competition for an arts project to signpost the Old Town. It sounded like a nice opportunity for a decent art project to encourage people to check out what's on offer in the Old Town Area behind the harbour. Just before Christmas, the Turneround Margate blog announced the winner. To say I was shocked at the result is putting it lightly. The winner is Ann Carrington with a giant shell lady statue that will be erected along with various signs pointing the way to the statue.

Apart from my personal instant dislike for the statue - I think it's simply embarrassingly bad - I don't think the project particularly fits the brief of signposting the old town. It seems to signpost itself. There's a number of comments on the Turneround blog, so I'll leave it there.

Another worrying concern is that this project could also be encouraging people to collect shells off the beaches. I can see the tourist office gift shop filling up now with hideous shell dolls to go along with all the other gifts that don't have relevance to Margate - light house, mermaids and fisherman's cottages anyone? I thought that the collection of shells on the beach was actively discouraged these days.

It was too much to hope that a decent public arts project could be developed that we could all be proud of. Bah humbug etc.


  1. To me it looks a little scarey as if it could come to life in a "Voyages of Sinbad/Jason and the Argonauts" kinda way!

  2. You're right. The thought of commom people, probably native to Thanet, making things from shells is quite appalling

  3. I recently visited Margate for a weekend and i took a walk along the prom and harbour on a particularly breezy Saturday lunchtime. i came across the statue and thought it lovely. The could has softened from the image above and to me it was most appropriate with oyster catchers on the harbour mud and the shellfish stall in the back ground. A simple to understand, representative piece of easily accessible art. Well done Margate!

  4. Hi Ian, glad you enjoyed your trip to Margate. Thinking it looks nice is one thing, but is it fit for purpose? Does it signpost the old town? And were the other competition entrants aware they could have a piece on the end of the Harbour Arm? I think not.

  5. My husband and I are visiting Margate for the first time next month and can't wait to see this Shell Lady everyones talking about!