April 15th, 2011
Tracey Emin welcomes new art gallery to Margate
British artist Tracey Emin has welcomed a “spectacular” new gallery in Margate that its founders hope will help regenerate the Kent seaside town.
The 47-year-old wiped away tears as she entered the £17.4m gallery on Friday, built on the site of a boarding house frequented by JMW Turner in the 1800s. “This summer will be one of the best Margate has had,” said the artist, who was brought up in the town. The Turner Contemporary gallery opens its doors to the public on Saturday. Newcomers to the town, Emin continued, would find a place that was “different, edgy [and] sexy”The artist, whose own work will be displayed at Turner Contemporary next year, admitted that she had initially been opposed to the two-storey structure. “There was a point where I, along with other local people, didn’t want it to happen,” she told the BBC News website.
Since its opening in 1997, the Frank Gehry creation – featured in 1999 James Bond film The World is Not Enough – has become a mecca for lovers of both art and innovative buildings. “What we’ve learnt from Bilbao is there’s a desire to see contemporary art and also to see fantastic architecture,” said Victoria Pomery, the new gallery’s director. “The arts in themselves will not regenerate Margate. But Turner Contemporary can open people’s minds to different ways of looking at the world around them.”
Homage is paid to the artist in Ellen Harvey’s mixed media installation Arcadia, a wooden structure based on Turner’s own gallery in London. Inside, the Kent-born artist has created a 360-degree panorama of present-day Margate made up of engraved mirrors placed on light boxes.
Other pieces include Limit of Everything, a rotating mechanical sculpture by Britain’s Conrad Shawcross, and three suspended globes on which landscapes have been painted by the US artist Russell Crotty.
According to Emin, the gallery will attract as many as 10,000 people to the town during its opening weekend, an influx she said would have a knock-on effect on the local economy.
“Its presence is as aggressive and threatening as that of a hyena in a sheepfold,” he wrote. “Nothing about it announces a benign purpose, nothing speaks of art and welcome.” “I haven’t read his article but I know he was highly critical,” Pomery told the BBC News website. “But everyone is entitled to their own view.
“I think the important thing is people come here and experience it for themselves.”