Article by Kat Outten, MA Fine Art Digital at Camberwell and Post-Grad Community Ambassador 2018-2019
The Margateers assembled early one warm August morning in Kings Cross with one thing on their minds... WORLD DOMINATION. Well... actually it was to go on a day trip to Margate, but I thought maybe I’d try to draw you in with something a bit more intriguing. We’ll try that again.
Seaside: Photographed | Turner Contemporary
The group assembled early one warm August morning in Kings Cross with one thing on their minds... discovering if life and artistic hubs existed outside of London. We ventured forth, taking a long detour on the train due to some kind of technical failure (insert comment about the state of our public transport system). When we arrived in Margate our first stop was the Turner Contemporary- an art gallery situated next to the beach. They currently have an artist in residence, Barbara Walker, creating a piece called Place, Space and Who which greets you upon entry. Towering figures rendered in minute detail adorn the wall, their gazes drifting out to the sea through the massive glass windows, or into the gallery space. Examining class, gender, race, representation and belonging through her large-scale pieces, often drawn directly onto walls, her work dominates the space and is truly breath-taking to see in person.
Seaside Photographed, the exhibition we came to see, Curated by LCC’s endowed Val Williams, Professor of the History and Culture of Photography and Director of the UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC).
The exhibition was a definitive look at seaside culture across the UK, told quite literally through the lens of photographers, ordinary people, and artists visiting the liminal space between land and sea. If you’re an avid lover of seaside culture, or just really into vintage photography and documentary photography, or just love to peek into the lives of strangers, then this is definitely the exhibition for you. So on our first stop we discovered that excellent art galleries do indeed exist outside of London- an encouraging start!
Tour | RESORT Studios
Despite the ever-changing weather we soldiered on to arrive at our next destination, RESORT Studios. Set up in 2013 to “create a space that encourages experimentation and collaboration in an inspiring and professional environment” (taken from their website). UAL alumni Dan Chillcot co-founded the space (and is also director of Margate Pride). Alumni of UAL associated with RESORT also include: Mellissa Fisher (MA Art & Science CSM 2016); Alyson Hunter (MA Printmaking, Chelsea 1972), Melanie King (MA Art & Science CSM 2013); Rachel Wilberforce (MA Fine Art Chelsea 2014 with Rector Scholarship); Lizzy Tweedale (MA Illustration and Visual Media LCC 2015).
The exhibition brought back many memories of childhood, not least the photos of the Isle of Wight Festival, I was there. I loved it because it was a beautiful mix of personal memory and also the 'expertise' of photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson, and the collection art of Susan Hiller, one of my most inspiring artists. I learnt a lot not least that Susan Hiller died this year, which somehow I had missed. But these unexpected moments were some of the best - UAL Alumni and attendee
RESORT Studios alongside what seemed a friendly and buzzing community, is a space that offers various kinds of flexible memberships; from hot desks in a shared space, to permanent desks, and even “pod” style spaces. They also have their own relief and screen printing set up which they generously showed us round as part of our tour of their beautiful Pettman building, and a fully equipped dark room! It would seem that creativity and artistic hubs spring up wherever artists go including, but not limited to, the lovely town of Margate.
Quick Stop | Chip Shop!
Cue a brief stop for fish and chips on the seafront *beware the seagulls*. We then made our way over to Dreamland, Margate’s very own retro/vintage theme park. “Considered to be the oldest-surviving amusement park in Great Britain, the site of Dreamland dates back to the British railway boom of the early 1870s” (taken from their website) and after many years of being derelict it was reimagined by the designer Wayne Hemingway and reopened in 2015, they have some classic rides and a funky vibe - they even have a roller rink! A pit stop for ice cream, a go on the rollercoaster 'the scenic railway', and we were all tired out and ready for a nap on the train ride home (although that might have just been me).
It would seem from our cheeky little day trip to the seaside town, that life, art, and fun all exist outside of the grey concrete confines of London! We made friends, ate too many chips, saw some art, got inspired by some cool creatives, and overall, I’d say the trip was a resounding success, even if we did get rained on a bit!