Turner Contemporary
  • Margate seafront
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate seafront
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate Harbour Arm
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate Harbour Arm
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate seafront
    Photo Nick Gutteridge 
  • Margate Old Town
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate Old Town
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate Old Town
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate Old Town
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate Old Town
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • Margate Old Town
    Copyright Thanet Tourism
  • The shell lady (aka Mrs Booth) waits longingly on the end of Margate Harbour Arm for JMW Turner to return
    Copyright Thanet Tourism 
  • Margate rock
    Courtesy of Thanet District Council Photo © Thanet District Council
  • JMW Turner
    Margate watercolour 1830 Courtesy of Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
    © Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry 2010
  • JMW Turner
    From Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England, Margate 1824
    Intaglio print on paper Courtesy of Tate
    Image © Tate, London 2010
  • Droit House, 19th century
  • Steam boat at Margate Harbour
    19th century
  • Margate Pier, 19th century
  • Margate Pier, 19th century
  • Dreamland 29 August 1955
    Courtesy of Paul Clark www.paulclarkphotography.co.uk
    Photo © Gerald Clark/Paul Clark
  • From the Sun Deck, Margate beach 6 September 1953
    Courtesy of Paul Clark www.paulclarkphotography.co.uk
    Photo © Gerald Clark/Paul Clark
  • Margate seafront
    Courtesy of Kent Libraries & Archives www.kent.gov.uk/libs
    Photo © Kent Libraries & Archives
  • Margate beach
    Courtesy of Kent Libraries & Archives www.kent.gov.uk/libs Photo © Kent Libraries & Archives

Turner and Margate

“Where therefore, and in this very town of Margate, he lived, when he chose to be quit of London, and yet not to travel” John Ruskin

Turner’s connection with Margate was the founding inspiration for our organisation. He loved Margate for the sea, the skies, and his landlady Mrs Booth.

He first came to the seaside town aged 11, having been sent by his parents to school in Love Lane in Margate Old Town. He returned to sketch here aged 21 and from the 1820s onwards became a regular visitor.

Location
For Turner, location was of great importance. He remarked to the influential writer and art critic John Ruskin that “…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe”. The unique quality of light in this part of Kent drew Turner back time and again.

More than 100 of Turner’s works, including some of his most famous seascapes, were inspired by the East Kent coast. Margate was the starting point for his visits to Europe, and a love of the sea stayed with him all his life.

Mrs Booth
Turner’s relationship with his landlady Mrs Booth (now immortalised by the shell lady at the end of Margate’s Harbour Arm) was clearly special to him - he even called himself ‘Mr Booth’ after the death of her husband.

Mrs Booth’s seafront guest house on Cold Harbour at Rendezvous, where Turner stayed when visiting the town, was originally situated on the same site where our gallery has been built.

From the gallery, everyone will be able to see the fine views over the harbour that Turner saw, capturing the same unique light that inspired his works.

Merry Margate

From Turner’s time onwards, Margate grew as the destination for Londoners wishing to escape the smog of the city.

With the advent of regular, affordable paddle steamboat excursions, substantial sea-water baths and the first sea bathing hospital in the world, people came in their droves to benefit from the medicinal and recreational delights of the town.

As more people visited the seaside resort, beautiful Georgian and Victorian buildings were erected to accommodate and entertain holiday makers. Elegant squares, fashionable hotels, and crescents with sea-views; Margate was a spectacle of architectural grandeur, which can still be seen today.

In the 20th century Margate remained a favourite holiday destination for many British families. They came to the South Coast’s ‘Dreamland’ for the sun, sea, sand, amusements and unrivalled views. Our seaside town has left fond memories for generations of visitors. 

To discover more about Margate’s history, visit the Margate Historical Society or go on a group History Walk.

Revival

“The brilliant thing about Turner Contemporary is that it has given people hope that things are going to change here and also put Margate back on the map.” Tracey Emin, Artist

We are now part of the exciting regeneration of one of Britain’s oldest and favourite seaside resorts.

With the opening of our new gallery, we aim to put Margate on the map of regional, national and international contemporary art, making it a prime destination for art lovers, holiday makers, families, students – everyone.

Offering a landmark contemporary art space alongside the town’s many other attractions - the Theatre Royal Margate, Winter Gardens, Walpole Bay Hotel, Old Town, The Shell Grotto and soon-to-be opened Heritage Dreamland Amusement Park - Margate’s rich history will fuse with its bright future.

For a full list of events and acitivities taking place in Margate and the area, go to www.visitthanet.co.uk. For the latest Isle news and things to do, go to the www.isleone.co.uk.

Many organisations are championing Margate’s heritage and future. To find out more, visit:

Turner Tour of Kent

To celebrate our Turner and the Elements exhibition, we commissioned artist Stephen Turner to look at JMW Turner’s relationship with Kent.

Stephen selected 10 images that show the breadth of Turner’s work in Kent and we invite you to travel to a number of locations around the county visited by the artist himself.

Download the tour from the bottom of this page and travel through Turner's Kent... 

Read The Independent's review of the tour here

Downloads: