Artworks of all shapes, sizes and mediums in The Open at Turner Contemporary – The Isle Of Thanet News
If you ever thought Turner Contemporary wasn’t for you, The Open could be the exhibition that will change your mind. It includes works of all shapes and sizes, in every medium imaginable, and bold, bold works sit alongside images of familiar local landmarks.
For The Open, Turner Contemporary’s usual curators stepped aside and took on a supporting role, allowing learning producer Dee Ajiba to work with four community groups to select the works. Age UK, Margate Pride, Canvas 4 Equality and Turner Contemporary’s Access Group each received a room. And four people from each group acted as curators.
They were given a choice of over 4,000 works, after a well-publicized call for artists of all ages to submit works in any medium. Working online during lockdown, volunteer curators have reduced work to a more manageable 450 – still far more than the gallery would usually hang. And they worked with gallery curators and technicians to install them.
The Open includes the widest range of works ever shown at the gallery, from a delicate watercolor of the white cliffs to an enormous graffitied concrete lion, and from a child’s drawing to a masterpiece by Tracey Emin.
Each of the four bedrooms has a distinct style and its own character. Age UK occupies the Clore Studio with its spectacular sea view, and their work is about everyday life and the journey from young to old. They have brought together an eclectic set of works, creating a delicious jumble, in which each visit will undoubtedly reveal a new pearl.
Next door, the Access Group Room is packed with familiar spots – Dreamland, Margate Main Sands, the Broadstairs seafront, the Lido and Turner Contemporary itself. The bedroom is a soft space that evokes the seaside, and gives way to craftsmanship and know-how. There’s pottery, glass work and sculpture – including a delightful bust of Tracey Emin by Madame Tussauds artist David Burks. It looks pointedly away from a painting of Tracey Emin herself.
Canvas 4 Equality has gone big and bold with its gallery, which has lime green and hot pink walls. The young team of curators celebrated in particular the black and ethnic communities of the region. The centerpiece is the massive concrete lion mentioned earlier, commenting on the British Empire and for residents, perhaps invoking memories of the Powell-Cotton Museum. Two large paintings by Charlie Evaristo Boyce, of his ancestors, evoke similar memories of times past. Selecting less work than the other bands, this room looks the most like a regular Turner Contemporary show.
The final piece, hung by Margate Pride, is the furthest from the usual. It’s a riot of color, with a mass of around 150 works hung in groups on pink and turquoise walls, and scattered on plinths or on the floor. The work is crude, expressive and often funny. A pair of chairs has become an overweight person, the carvings are self-explanatory, and the paintings include the full range of body parts. A raw painting by Rose Wylie, three meters wide, should dominate the room, but is almost lost in the colorful carnival of chaos.
Finally, the small Irene Willett Gallery space was shared by the four groups and includes a selection of bold and colorful works. It’s a much-needed decompression chamber between Margate Pride’s bedroom and the outside world.
Although each group took a very different approach and each piece was distinct, the whole show works well together. The unifying spirit is a love of art, a celebration of the joy of creativity, a delight in the act of doing, and an excitement at the chance to manage Turner’s galleries.
This show celebrates the work of Kent and is firmly rooted in the county. It covers a wide range of styles, a wide range of techniques, and while not everything will appeal to everyone, there’s definitely something for everyone who wants to find it.
Among the works, visitors can find many talented artists and photographers from Thanet, including photographers Eleanor Marriott, of Ramsgate and Frank Leppard, of Margate, artists Mick Cairns, Lesley Gray and Suzanne Curtis, all of Ramsgate, the installation Departures from Margate artist and editor, Jessica The Jordan-Wrench and Broadstairs-based engraver, Ieuan Edwards, as well as the work of travel community artist, Phien O’Phien.
For painter Mick Cairns, it’s doubly local since his painting of Reculver Towers is based on a photo by fellow exhibitor Frank Leppard!
Mick said: “I painted it from a photograph taken by Frank Leppard, with his permission, which he said this phenomenon only happens a few days a year, but it shows how our world is beautiful, especially here in Thanet, it’s not I wonder if Turner liked the sky here.
I am very proud that my painting is chosen to be exhibited.
The exhibition opens today (Saturday October 23) and will run until Sunday February 20, 2022.