About two years before the opening of the new Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, I decided to ‘get on board’ and see what I could do to help welcome them into our community and to ease their way over the very rocky road of negative local criticism and much anger.
I was convinced that any organisation that was willing to invest a huge sum of money into Margate, should be welcomed and encouraged and I joined in their pre-opening projects including one which we named ‘Blank Canvas’. This was an inter-generational group of fellow art enthusiasts and creative people, both young and older whose views were similar to my own. When at last the opening day arrived in 2011, we were delighted to be invited to the various preview events and talks and knew that we had in a small way, helped the gallery to become established.
As the visitor numbers increased and soon outstripped the initial targets, we knew that it had been a roaring success and gradually much of the local opposition waned.
At about this time, I applied to join a course which was run jointly by the Turner Contemporary and the University of Creative Arts (UCA) Canterbury. This was the Cultural Ambassadors Course. Over 60 applied and about 25 people were chosen for this ten week part-time intensive practical art course. It was to be a taster for the UCA’s Diploma and Degree courses, which some people went on to complete. I recall really enjoying the course and the camaraderie and watching everyone achieve beyond their expectations. The end result was an exhibition in the Gallery’s ‘Clore learning studio’ and a certificate.
So what exactly is a Cultural Ambassador? Many of us on the course weren’t exactly sure either. I think now, looking back, we were chosen for our positive outlook and our willingness to open our creative minds and to help spread the positive benefits that the new gallery was bringing to Margate. Contemporary art isn’t for everyone, but for Margate it has brought a world class art gallery and many more visitors than before, giving our local economy a real kick up the back side. Pretty good value! Don’t you think!
Here is my painting of the new Turner Contemporary Gallery and the old Droit House at Margate in a sunset. Margate is rather good at sunset’s, hence the reason for JMW Turner’s visits here.
To visit my own Gallery and shop click on the photo above.
To visit the Turner Contemporary Website, Click here.