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  • Daniel Buren, Borrowing and Multiplying the Landscape, work in situ, 2011, mirrors, self-adhesive  white vinyl and coloured filters.
    Photo © David Grandorge
  • Daniel Buren, Borrowing and Multiplying the Landscape, work in situ, 2011, mirrors, self-adhesive  white vinyl and coloured filters.
    Photo © David Grandorge
  • Left to right: Russell Crotty, The Cape, 2010, ink and gouache on paper on fiberglass sphere, courtesy Hosfelt Gallery; Walking Towards Dreamland, 2011, ink and gouache on paper on fiberglass sphere, courtesy the artist; Near The Lost Coast, 2007, ink and gouache on paper on fiberglass sphere, courtesy Shoshana Wayne Gallery; Coastal Wanderings, 2010-2011, 14 pages with canvas cover, pencil, ink and gouache on paper
    Photo © David Grandorge
  • JMW Turner, The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains in the Island of St. Vincent, at Midnight, on the 30th April 1812, from a Sketch Taken at the Time by Hugh P. Keane, Esqre 1815
    Image © The Victoria Gallery & Museum, University of Liverpool
  • Teresita Fernández, Eruption (Small) 2005, aluminium, glass beads, wood, vinyl, private collection. Courtesy Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York
    Photo © David Grandorge

  • Teresita Fernández, Sfumato (September 18) 2009, graphite, drawing, courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York
    Photo © David Grandorge
  • Conrad Shawcross, Limit of Everything (5:4) 2011, metal, oak, mechanical system, light, Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London
    Photo © David Grandorge
  • Ellen Harvey, Arcadia 2011 (interior), mixed media installation. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Gebruder Lehmann, Locks Gallery and Meessen de Clercq
    Photo © David Grandorge
  • Douglas Gordon, Afterturner 2000, wall text. Courtesy the artist
    Photo © David Grandorge
Sat 16 Apr - Sun 4 Sep 2011

Our opening exhibition brings together work by the visionary British painter JMW Turner and six contemporary artists.

We welcome visitors to the new gallery to see fantastic art works and spectacular spaces. The exhibition explores imagination, discovery, wonder and creativity. This spirit has also guided the building of the gallery from an idea into reality.

JMW Turner (1775 – 1851) visited Margate throughout his life. He used his imagination and experience of nature to create extraordinary paintings conjured from his mind’s eye and often stimulated by the light and landscape of the Kent coast.

The exhibition centres on Turner’s extraordinary painting The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains, in the Island of St Vincent, at Midnight, on the 30th of April, 1812, from a Sketch Taken at the Time by Hugh P. Keane, Esqre ,1815, which portrays the drama of a volcanic eruption. Turner never saw the event, but was inspired to make the painting by Keane’s sketch and his interest in the natural world.

Turner’s painting is evidence of the power of his imagination and his curiosity about new places and natural phenomena. This desire for knowledge marked the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when many discoveries were made in science and technology and artists and scientists worked in close dialogue.

The six contemporary artists in the exhibition work in the same spirit of enquiry, invention and interest in the natural world that flourished during Turner’s lifetime. Just as Turner explored nature in paint and colour, so these contemporary artists play at the borders between what we can see and know and the truly fantastic. Four of the artists have made new work for the opening of Turner Contemporary. Like Turner, their work responds to the special setting of the gallery in Margate, on the North Kent coast.

During this exhibition photography in the galleries is permitted. Please refrain from using flash or tripods. Permission to take photographs for professional or commercial purposes must be obtained in advance from Turner Contemporary.


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Daniel Buren
Inspired by the light and sky that Turner so loved, Daniel Buren’s specially-commissioned work for the exhibition will dramatically intervene with the double-height gallery on the ground floor of the new building.

Ellen Harvey

Ellen Harvey’s newly-commissioned work Arcadia will recreate to scale the gallery JMW Turner built to house his work. Viewers will enter a temporary structure where the paintings covering the walls at the time of Turner’s death will be replaced by illuminated depictions of Margate represented in minute detail.

Conrad Shawcross

Conrad Shawcross is fascinated by science and philosophy, and his work evokes the forces governing the universe. His dramatic new installation draws together a number of threads evident in his practice. A suspended rotating light sculpture will fill the gallery with shadows from a large bronze ‘tree’ sculpture, taking the form of a sound wave from a harmonic chord that appears to grow from the gallery floor. The harmonic form will appear in various guises in drawings created by a custom-built machine.

Conrad Shawcross discusses his work in Revealed and in general on BBC's Front Row programme 10 May 2011

Russell Crotty

Russell Crotty draws inspiration from his direct experiences as an amateur astronomer, surfer and nature enthusiast. His work reflects his observations of the land, sea and sky. Turner Contemporary will present a series of suspended globes and large books covered in meticulously drawn land and seascapes and astronomical maps. Many of the drawings will represent the Thanet coast alongside very different landscapes from other parts of the world.

Teresita Fernández

Revealed will also include two works by Teresita Fernández: Sfumato (September 18) (2009) uses pieces of graphite and drawing on the wall to depict a rising cloud of smoke, while the floor piece Eruption (2005) represents the mouth of a volcano as seen from above .

Douglas Gordon

Finally, the exhibition will include Douglas Gordon’s Afterturner, a poetic text piece responding to Turner’s mythic final words: ‘The sun is God.’ This text will lead visitors up the gallery’s main staircase.




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Left by wendy on Thu 31 Mar 2011

I love Turner, just cant wait for the opening.
see you all there.

Left by Jim Turner on Sat 16 Apr 2011

It's here now, and it's more than a picture gallery. It's a community project which all of the ratepayers in Thanet have a slice of. You can see the positive effect it's had already in the market Place (Old Town), and the lower high street. All seaside resorts in England have suffered decline since the 1960's, and we Thanetians have the chance to re-enliven Margate and Thanet in general, so let's be positive and grasp it !

Left by Kate Rydqvist on Sat 16 Apr 2011

How lovely!!At last Kent has a symbol status in the art world.I can now travel to Margate to view Turner.Just brilliant and a great boost to the run down seaside resort too.Well done.Now we just need to bring the rest of the town in line and then we will enjoy Margate as a whole like we used to when my sons were little.
Another good idea would be to use a section of the gallery to exhibit art work from up and coming artists like myself.

Left by Stephen Biddall on Sun 17 Apr 2011

I joined the queue today to visit Turner Contemporary on its opening day, and I was hugely impressed by the gallery, and also by the first exhibition. Well done everyone - it is a real step forward for Margate!

Left by J Mackett on Sun 17 Apr 2011

Visited the Turner Contemporary today - absolutely loved everything about it. Well done on making a beautiful space. Do hope it continues to be as popular as it has been this weekend. It will give a great boost to Margate and to Thanet as a whole.

Left by Carl Wiltshire on Wed 20 Apr 2011

Oh I cannot wait for the queues to die down so I can visit and stand looking at some of the most satisfying work to look at

I wish the Turner and its keepers all the very best for the future.

Left by Angela on Wed 7 Sep 2011

I really enjoyed this exhibition. All the artworks were given plenty of space so instead of my having an overload of images and ideas, I was able to enjoy and take in the meaning and true quality of each peice of work.
Well done - I shall definately be back to see more.

Left by patricia vincent on Mon 5 Sep 2011

Visited the Turner Gallery on a perfect August summer's day. The contemporary lines of the gallery contrasted beautifully with the jumble of period buildings surrounding it. On a grey day though it could look a bit austere, would some judicious planting of trees (Tate Modern) near the bleak concrete slabs near the boundary road help here?
There was a nice buzz around the gallery, and signs that this quaint seaside town is feeling it's on the map again. Residents unite, a great opportunity for much needed regeneration. William Turner would be proud. PS A great website