Internationally renowned artist Bob and Roberta Smith was commissioned by Turner Contemporary in 2006 to create a banner project to animate Margate High Street. This summer/autumn, the banners return to present eight dilemmas for Margate.
Bob and Roberta Smith is a pseudonym for the artist Patrick Brill. His work is held in many collections around the world including Tate.
Smith believes in art and democracy and thinks ‘it is with the small ‘p’ politics that you can effect change as an artist’. His work offers a critique of artists and the art world and references art history as well as popular culture. He paints slogans in a unique brightly coloured lettering style on banners and discarded boards of wood and exhibits them in galleries of contemporary art across the world. The slogans are usually humorous musings on art, politics, popular culture, Britain and the world in general, and they often support his activist campaigns.
The banner series presents eight ‘Dilemmas for Margate’ in the form of ‘either or’ questions – some obvious, some less so. The aim is to engage passers-by with the two sided coin of gentrification and regeneration through posing these ambiguous questions.
What are the dilemmas?
Turner or Terry? Arctic Monkeys or Mantovani? Kent or Cornwall? Love or Hate? Mountain Top or Seaside? Britain or Brittany? In or Out? Fish ‘n’ Chips or Dover Sole?
Smith’s use of colour in these banners seeks to highlight the questions but also brightens up the street scene. Working with local signwriters, Smith gave precise instructions about the colours to be used and also the typeface.
The banners will be installed from Thursday 6 September - Sunday 28 October 2012. After this period the festive lights will be returned to the High Street.
The project aims to re-enforce Turner Contemporary’s commitment to presenting high quality work that extends beyond the traditional ‘gallery space’ and to continue its support of the local business community, particularly the High Street traders.
'I loved making this piece for Margate. My Mum grew up in Margate between the First and Second World wars... she left Margate for London when her house was used as a billet for troops returning from Dunkirk. She told me people had put up banners at the end of their gardens all the way up to London saying 'Welcome Home' so that they could be read by the troops from the train. My Banners for Margate don't say 'Welcome Home' but they do ask people to reflect on changes, style and the preconceptions we have about ourselves and others, hopefully, in a playful and joyful way.'
Bob and Roberta Smith