The Turner Contemporary, opened in 2011 with hopes of revitalizing the Victorian seaside town of Margate, makes a bold statement on the seafront. The gallery, designed by award-winning British architect David Chipperfield, is spacious with exhibition rooms lit by soft northern light or by the extensive sea views enjoyed by JMW Turner.
Turner first came to Margate in 1786 as a child and returned there to paint with regularity throughout his life. In his later years, he stayed in a rooming house owned by Sophie Booth, a widow 25 years his junior who was reputed to be his lover.
The Turner Contemporary occupies the very spot on the Margate beach where Mrs. Booth's guesthouse stood and where Turner painted his epic sea and skyscapes of Thanet. The focus of the free, public gallery is contemporary art but at least one work by JMW Turner will always be exhibited.
Plus Tate Network
As part of the Plus Tate network, through which a number of UK galleries are able to exhibit parts of the national UK arts collection, works from the Tate Britain's Turner collection as well as other Turner collections around the country, will form a small part of the exhibitions at the new gallery. For its opening show, "Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens", The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains on the Island of St. Vincent, on loan from Liverpool University, is being exhibited along with notes and other background material Turner used in planning the work.
A Contemporary Art Gallery
The opening exhibition at the new contemporary art gallery is limited to a few works by a handful of artists, three of whom were specially commissioned for the opening. The first show was designed to show off the light and space of the Turner Contemporary.
Margate is not the likeliest spot on the tourist trail. The town is rough around the edges and not a place I can recommend for an overnight stay. But for visitors touring the Kent coast, the new Turner Contemporary is well worth a stop.
- Where: Rendezvous,Margate, Kent CT9 1HG
- Contact: +44 (0)1843 233 000
- Open: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays
- Admission Free
- Cafe: The cafe has indoor and sunny outdoor space. Families are welcome and the children's menu includes organic drinks.
- Visit their website to see what's on.
Explore the gallery space and highlights of the opening exhibition on the next few pages