diamond geezer

 Thursday, February 07, 2013

If something's going to drag you to the seaside in February, that something might be art. That and a £10 return rail ticket, courtesy of Mary Portas (available weekends only until the end of the month). It certainly won't be the weather. Margate on Sunday was the very definition of bracing, the sandy beach empty apart from a few stalwart families and dogwalkers [photo]. In not many amusement arcades on the seafront, not many teens were amused [photo]. A few shoppers hung around doorways in the High Street, where nobody yet seems sure what to do with the old Woolworths [photo]. In the Old Town a handful of visitors frequented the handful of boutiques and cafes that had bothered to open up for trading. But on the foreshore by the Harbour Arm, providing respite from the elements, the galleries at the Turner Contemporary were really rather busy.

Carl Andre: Mass & Matter
Turner Contemporary, Margate

(1 February - 6 May 2013)

You may not know his name, but you'll know one of his works. That pile of bricks the Tate exhibited in the 70s, that was one of Andre's. Its official name was Equivalent VIII, Carl's eighth attempt at showing how 120 firebricks could be arranged as a cuboid. This controversial piece isn't here in Margate, more's the pity, but a small selection of his other work fills an upper gallery. Don't expect curves, Carl prefers straight lines, repetition and flatness. One of his tiled metal pavements (with the alluring title 4×25 Altstadt Rectangle) can be walked across, but the other two are stashed in the corner and watched over by beady staff. A few artworks break out from the horizontal, for example a pile of large cedar blocks stacked carefully like the start of a game of Jenga. The closest approximation to "those bricks" is a set of triangular tiles laid out to form a prism, sharp point upwards, named 60 x 1 Range Work. You could knock this together yourself in your garage after a quick trip to Wickes, if the fancy took you, the difference being that Andre got there first and called it art. Meanwhile around the walls are several examples of Carl's poetry, if you can call words typed in patterns on typewriters poetry. These were produced in the late 1960s, when manual keybashing was the extent of home-based word-processing, so some of the rows and columns contain mistypes and overtypes it was impossible to delete. Clever, in places, but elsewhere little more than I might have created myself as a child. If you think you might walk out mumbling "well that wasn't proper, was it?", perhaps best not come specially.

On the seafront, between the Jubilee Clock and the station, once stood the entrance to Dreamland [photo]. When this was Margate's entertainment hub, these coastal acres were packed with rides including the Water Chute, the Cableway, the Haunted Swing and the Meteorite. At its heart was the Scenic Railway, a glorious wooden rollercoaster built in 1920, and until five years ago the oldest surviving working coaster in Britain. Alas a suspicious fire damaged it severely, and what remains now stands alone in the centre of nothing much [photo]. For those of us who remember the glory days and rode the undulating beast, it's a very sorry sight. Thankfully, even surprisingly, there are grand plans to bring Dreamland back. The project's being backed by local cash, national funding and lottery money, and there are hopes that Stage 1 will reopen as early as next year [photo]. That means the refurbishment of the park entrance via the Dreamland Cinema building, the restoration of the Scenic Railway (hurrah) and the installation of a number of other rides, as well as a touch of landscaping to brighten the whole place up. 2014 seems an impossible deadline while peering across a temporary car park at an expanse of featureless tarmac, but what a gamechanger for the local tourist economy if everything takes off. As the rise of the Turner Contemporary shows, dreams can come true.

Subject to Constant Change
Turner Contemporary, Margate

(1 February - 6 May 2013)

You're probably not familiar with this Italian-German visual artist either. Rosa likes to toy with the nature of cinema, more particularly "the physical characteristics of film and the structure of cinematic narrative." She's refitted a series of film projectors to spool celluloid in twisting shapes, perhaps nudging large ball bearings on a can, perhaps projecting individually typed letters onto a glass screen. Entire paragraphs of text have been punched out of long strips of felt, projecting their meaning in light on the wall beyond. Two dozen horizontal strips of handwritten celluloid rotate slowly in the gallery nextdoor, although once I'd spotted the misspelling of "dissappear" halfway down I couldn't concentrate on much else. The centrepiece of Rosa's display is a ten minute film of coastal and industrial decay, entitled Subconscious Society. This features aerial shots of snaking saltmarsh and footage shot in and around the Maunsell Forts off the North Kent coast, so I was transfixed. Only afterwards however, when I read the exhibition blurb, did I realise I'd actually been watching "the end of the industrial age in favour of an age of technology". Meanwhile, along the upper corridor, Rosa has curated an entirely different exhibition comprising several of JMW Turner's perspective drawings. These were used as part of a series of lectures at the Royal Academy in the 1830s where Turner was a Professor of Perspective - a job to treasure. Joseph's painted spheres and coloured triangles were only visual aids, but could easily be modern art, and make a surprisingly cohesive presentation.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream