Turner Contemporary

Michael Armitage’s paintings at Turner Contemporary. Photo credit: Stephen White

The Every Day is a New Day exhibition is Margate’s Turner Contemporary summer exhibition lasting from Friday 26 May to Sunday 24 September. It features a mix of 2D and 3D work from artists such as Phyllida Barlow and Michael Armitage as well as young people from Kent and Africa. The work is captivating with themes of renewal, change and discovery prompting the viewers to think about issues they might not have considered before.

Barlow’s work is a key example of this. Her work is primarily sculpture – huge, colourful creations that are instantaneously memorable. But what really resonates is her choice of materials. At first glance they appear to be created from plastics or heavily processed wood but in reality the materials are the utter opposite. They’re everyday objects – plywood, plaster, acrylic all painstakingly erected into unique creations of something from fantasy novels. However the work doesn’t represent the true nature of Phyllida’s work. If you’re familiar with what she does don’t expect to be blown away by new creations but prepare for a highlight of some of her popular pieces. Yet it’s a brilliant exhibition for people of all ages who might not be familiar with art and sculpture but want to experience the creative power it possesses.

Armitage’s work was my personal favourite and really elevated the exhibition into a league of its own. Visually appealing the colours entice the viewers into the piece. Upon closer inspection the texture of the Ugandan lubugo bark cloth starts to appear. The cloth is a unique choice of canvas – time consuming and challenging to make but creates a distinct canvas that compliments the African themes of Armitage’s work. Each painting recalls his experience of living in Kenya and challenges the skewed representation of Africa in the media by showing illicit sides that contradict the “Peace Coma” Armitage feels the media is in. The paintings are visual stories where Armitage’s emotions rampage across the canvas. This is enhanced further by the fluidity of the brushstrokes that flow together and capture the gesture of the moment. His work manages to empathise with the audience; the feelings of fear and loneliness haunt the viewer around the Artist Room. Each aspect – the composition, brushwork, colour all guide the eye around the piece and into his dreamlike portrayal of Kenya. All in all his work is beautifully executed and raises awareness of media and governmental censorship of Africa in a way that will stay with you. The only downside (if you consider it one) would be that his material contains mild nudity which could potentially interfere with taking your children along to visit.

The exhibition is a big score for Turner Contemporary as it represents the transformative ideology of the new Margate and Kent as a whole. The entire exhibition is free of charge and for any fan of modern art, or just someone interested in the ideas of expression and change it’s a great way to spend the afternoon.

Hannah Downs from Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School wrote this review while on work experience at Turner Contemporary


Posted by: Turner Contemporary on 13 July 2017
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