Monday, 7 February 2011

Nice article on Turner and Margate from Will Gompertz at the BBC



"Margate doing a Bilbao


The sun was brilliant, the light fantastic, and there I stood in amongst it. At the end of last week while others toiled under leaden skies, I'd taken off for brighter climes.

You have to travel to find such locations, where sun and sea unite to reveal colours that are normally hidden. And I had travelled. To the place that Turner loved more than most, for the light it gives (and for his host): a place where the French would visit and mingle with other metropolitans who too were "en vacance". Not that I expected to see them on my trip, but I hoped the sun might shine.

And it did: in buckets and spades. But then, that's Margate for you.

Admittedly it's a town that has been struggling with its image of late. Once a popular seaside resort, many holidaymakers now consider it a last resort. They say cheap flights and package holidays did her in, but Brighton, Hastings and North Berwick are all doing okay. The truth is Margate went out of fashion and stayed there. And without the free-spending tourists to put a smile on her face, she became depressed, which was bad because nobody wants to holiday with a misery.

So in an attempt to cheer the old port up, the council have "done a Bilbao". That is built a funky modern art gallery in the hope that fortune will favour a brave contemporary design. It's a bold move, but is it a wise one?

Yes.

Turner Contemporary
, as the David Chipperfield-designed building is known, is a success inside and out. But then what would you expect from one of the world's most gifted living architects, who on Wednesday evening will pick up the highly-prized RIBA Gold Medal at a ceremony held in his honour. You only have to look at his portfolio of cultural projects on his website to know the man and his practice would create something special. Which they duly have while delivering the Holy Grail for any art-gallery-as-urban-regeneration-project: and that is a building you'd travel to see regardless of what it contains."

34 comments:

  1. I read a recent article by Will Gompertz (BBC) who says of Margate "Admittedly it's a town that has been struggling with its image of late. Once a popular seaside resort, many holidaymakers now consider it a last resort. They say cheap flights and package holidays did her in, but Brighton, Hastings and North Berwick are all doing okay. The truth is Margate went out of fashion and stayed there. And without the free-spending tourists to put a smile on her face, she became depressed, which was bad because nobody wants to holiday with a misery.

    So in an attempt to cheer the old port up, the council have "done a Bilbao". That is built a funky modern art gallery in the hope that fortune will favour a brave contemporary design."


    He goes on to say "Turner Contemporary, as the David Chipperfield-designed building is known, is a success inside and out."


    Now he is either stupid, blind or both. The Turner centre looks like a power station or some other nasty industrial complex, it is ugly and has pride of place outside the Margate 'nick' although it belongs firmly inside the custody suite. It is not a success either inside or out. Please see photo attached - an art gallery that looks like a power station and a power station that looks like an art gallery.

    It may well have been designed by Chipperfield (described by Gompertz as "one of the world's most gifted living architects") frankly it looks more like it was designed by Chipperfield's circus.

    Gompertz refers to T.S. Elliott writing his 'The Waste Land' in the Nayland Rock shelter - what incredible forsight! The Waste Land is the most apt description for Margate nowadays

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  2. I sometimes tire of these predictable miserable uneducated comments on this blog. But nevermind. It's free speech. Each to their miserable uneducated own.

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  3. At the risk of being labelled as "predictable miserable uneducated", I agree with John; & I thought he came across far more educated than the other comment.

    Why do so many people want to re-invent Margate instead of just trying to revive it the way it was; an unpretentious holiday resort for unpretentious working-class people (& yes, the type of people who wouldn't be put off by seeing a Tesco).

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  4. Because unpretentious working-class people don't holiday in Margate any more and wont be coming back in the numbers they once did, that period in time is well and truly over, time to move on. Whitstable is packed to the seems any given weekend, lets have some of that trade.

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  5. They don't holiday here anymore because there's bugger all for them. Places like Blackpool might not be quite as busy as they were a few decades ago but they've managed to survive, largely by attracting the same kind of people as they've always done, but then I doubt if they've had the same gradual disappearance of most of the things that attracted the people in the first place (the pier, the funfair, the caves, the museum, etc). An art gallery wouldn't revive Blackpool either if everything else was taken away.

    Any chance of using a name anonymous / anonymouses, even if it's not your real one? That way I'll at least know whether I'm talking to different people or not.

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  6. "packed to the seems"?

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  7. ha ha you got me!

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  8. I reckon it's Simon Moores. He seems to be the acceptable face of TDC! John says what most of the town is thinking and he's very funny with it. I'm thinking "Blott On The Landscape" remade in Margate. A lady friend of mine dubbed it "The Toilet Block". Where are the promised shiny space-age panels? At least the glare of the sun would have distracted the eye. Instead we are lumbered with a seventies shopping centre from Harlow! Still we must make the best of it and get the suckers to feed the monster. Now that is something TDC knows about!

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  9. john said The Turner centre looks like a power station

    have u been to tate modern that was a power station lol lol but still it is one of the most successful tourist attractions ever

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  10. Peter Checksfield said...

    Why do so many people want to re-invent Margate instead of just trying to revive it the way it was; an unpretentious holiday resort for unpretentious working-class people (& yes, the type of people who wouldn't be put off by seeing a Tesco).


    have you been to the east end lately, no I sugest u take a trip and see how it's change there is no nice Knees Up Cockney anymore.

    have u been to Richmond where a one bed house go for £450,000 there are plenty of tescos in the area. olol

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  11. Plug Ugly Margate

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  12. A multi-storey public toilet visible from the other end of town.

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  13. I grew up in Margate and now live in Cornwall. When the old gas works at St Ives was taken on by the Tate gallery the white concrete round shapes drew similar comments and complaints from locals. But St Ives, once dead in the Winter months and with only seasonal jobs on offer now thrives all the year round. Hotels and boarding houses are full,more
    cafes and restaurants have opened and once empty shops have been snapped up in all sorts of interesting ways.Cruise ships anchor in the bay and ferry people in to enjoy a day in this now busy and cultural town and of course everyone wants to live there, even though it is 5-6 hours away by train from London.I am sure Margate will be alive again and packed with people, including foreign visitors.The art gallery will bring them in and others will follow.It has happened in St Ives and in the East End of London. Watch out though Margate, all your properties will soon be snapped up! My father used to travel to London each day from Margate , to work and now the journey is even faster.

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  15. The difference with St. Ives is that Margate is so much nearer to London; how on earth are we supposed to tempt people even from Medway to come to Margate for an art gallery when they can spend the same amount of time travelling to bigger & better art galleries (& much more more besides) in London?

    I HOPE it succeeds, but I if it doesn't then they'll be a lot of people saying "I told you so!", including me!

    As for "all your properties will soon be snapped up", presumably you'll be tempted to move back from Cornwall to Margate Jean?

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  16. More art and culture will follow the Turner Centre and there will be ever changing shows as with all galleries.A day out from London to include art and Margate's wonderful beaches, what could be better?Plus a good old fashioned funfair if the promise to reopen Dreamland materialises.
    When I move in the next year or two to the South East I shall certainly be considering Margate.

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  17. Peter Checksfield said...
    The difference with St. Ives is that Margate is so much nearer to London;


    I would of thought it would be to margates advantage.

    potential 10mil catchment range


    no one knows about tc in london they need to be enlightened.

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  18. also all the houses in cliftonville need to be painted white and painted every 10 years this will create long term job stability, also will make the place look respectable once again.

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  19. And what is the problem in Margate being so much closer to London than St Ives exactly? Isn't that the point? And as for Peter saying there is nothing for people to do, that is very unfair to all the lovely businesses and attractions that are here and doing a great job. We have an amazing coastline to explore, that isn't bugger all. There's the Shell Grotto, Powell Cotton Museum, Margate Old Town... Spend a couple of days relaxing having a few dinners, rumaging in the vintage shops and curious attractions like the aforementioned Grotto and musum, and add on long beach walk to Broadstairs and that's quite a full list of things to do. Think like a visitor and not like a local for why there is plenty here. We take the sea for granted. if you live in a city, even on a grey day the sea is a treat.

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  20. there should be signs like this all over Margate to inform and help the new tourist also joint advertising.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/55813958@N02/5422629720/

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  21. Of course I agree regarding all those things MA, but my point is that an art gallery isn't likely to entice many more people to our wonderful coastline etc imo (& how many people who visit art galleries are also the type of people who enjoy coastal walks - apart from an "artful" stroll around a boating pool?).

    It seems that outsiders or relative newcomers understand Margate's problems more thanb those that have lived here decades or were born here. Time will tell whether they're right or wrong (& even if they're right, it's still a very ugly building that's in the wrong place!).

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  22. The last thing we need are "torist Atractions" signs 17:57...

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  23. Peter Checksfield said...
    The last thing we need are "torist Atractions" signs

    Beautiful wooden signs or heritage
    not rubbish.
    Eg:

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3120/2634243980_3078e8a58c.jpg


    If the TC was not built, there would be a view of the life boat building instead. I will leave it to you to decide which is better.

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  24. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3120/2634243980_3078e8a58c.jpg

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  25. I was being ironic via the signs (eg the spelling!).

    There were nice signs on the seafront a couple of years back that directed tourists to The Caves, The Museum, Dreamland & The Tudor House...until local bloggers pointed out that these were all actually closed.

    If the TC wasn't there we'd also still have "The Ship", a thriving pub with a great atmosphere which supported a lot of local musicians - & where a drunk woman once came up to me & showed me her nipple piercings. That's hardly likely to happen at the TC... unless Tracey Emin visits. ; )

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  26. The Caves, The Museum, Dreamland & The Tudor, all these should open soon it would be mad not to.

    literally.

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  27. People who visit art galleries are exactly the type of people who enjoy coastal walks, Peter. Margate's cultural tourists are already enjoying these walks and the good things Margate has to offer. Many are exploring the beach front walk to Broadstairs rain and shine. It's a natural connection. They probably would also enjoy outdoor sports and activities, which if we developed more businesses on those lines could mean jobs.

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  28. Reading in the local paper the council wants to build a new lifeboat house on the beach where the boat is tempary housed, if you look at the size of the building its now in it will be as tall as the shops and extend into the beach some 60 ft it will be massive we must stop this stupidity NOW !!!

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  29. If they wait a year they'll be able to use the Turner Centre building instead...

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  30. Your last comment(21st)and the one about 'arty' people not wanting to go for walks says it all, Peter. Shame you're so determined to see it all go downhill!

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  32. Well, if building on Margate's greatest surviving asset (the main sands) is progress then I'd much rather see it go downhill...

    Why can't they at least build a new lifeboat house near the disused toilets in Westbrook (just passed the Nayland Rock hotel) or where the decaying The Lido pool is? If this isn't possible then the location of the TC is an even bigger disaster for Margate than I thought.

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  33. I think the TC was built in that particular place because it is visible from the train station drawing your eye in to the town. TC is not that bad, as long as the building is kept clean regularly which means employment, Arlington house on the other hand is a bit different most of it is made from concrete, Unless polished concrete will suck in dirty water, it's hard to keep it clean, it needs to be power wash regularly this can prove costly, that why it has not been cleaned, and it’s multi story, more cost.

    TC is only 2 story, also TC is going to have trees planted on the right hand site of it, going straight up the Rendezvous, which will soften the from. When they have done that and taken all the boards down, should look better.

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  34. I can sum the building up in one word - hideous.

    It looks like a power station, or a bus terminal. It makes you think of an industrial estate.

    Why?

    It is so out of quilter with the look of Margate (Victorian, Georgian - even Regency). It is a mistake - bird droppings in a week & graffiti sooner is my suspicion.

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