This year, Turner Contemporary has welcomed 403,649 visits to the gallery - far surpassing the initial forecasts of 150,000 annual visits. The gallery has exhibited the work of over 100 artists and presented 14 exhibitions in the last 12 months, including children’s work, the work of community groups and major exhibitions by international artists, attracting praise from critics, visitors and participants.
Highlights this year have included a commission by Stephanie Quayle, The Narrow Abyss, which saw life-size clay chimpanzees take over our North gallery; the biggest Katie Paterson retrospective exhibition to date including a new commission, The Colour Wheel, which depicts the colours of every age of the universe. Last summer Turner Contemporary brought a life-size polar bear puppet, Paula, to Margate to inspire conversations around climate change. In November the gallery announced that the popular Antony Gormley sculpture on the shore next to the gallery will stay in Margate until November 2020.
In addition, this year saw the Koestler Trust’s first exhibition in the South East, which featured over 70 artworks made by people in prisons, young offender institutions, secure hospitals and on probation in Kent and Sussex; and Turner Contemporary brought the work of historical and contemporary artists to Margate for our Animals & Us exhibition, including Pablo Picasso, George Stubbs and JMW Turner.
The gallery’s internationally-renowned learning programme has reached 10,532 children this year, with 92 sessions delivered in local schools, 16 work experience placements with young people learning directly from gallery staff, and 70 workshops delivered that are free for CT9 residents. Turner Contemporary is now working on a project, as part of Pioneering Places: East Kent, which will see 60 local children, aged 7 to 9, from Ramsgate Arts Primary and St Laurence’s Junior Academy collaborating on a Child-Led Plan for Ramsgate, and commissioning a major new artwork to be installed near the Harbour.
Looking ahead, this autumn, Turner Contemporary will host Turner Prize 2019, one of the best known prizes for the visual arts in the world. Every other year, the prize leaves Tate Britain and is presented at a venue outside London. Alongside the exhibition at Turner Contemporary, there will be an ambitious town-wide programme of arts and creativity, Margate NOW, which has been developed in collaboration with partners.
As well as delivering an ambitious programme of exhibitions, Turner Contemporary continues to work beyond the gallery walls. Over the next two years, for instance, we are partnering with Visit Kent to lead an innovative new visitor experience, England’s Creative Coast which will span Kent, Essex, East and West Sussex. In 2020, England’s Creative Coast will launch seven new artworks by leading contemporary artists and the first art digital geocaching tour in the world, connecting some of the most outstanding galleries, arts organisations, events and festivals in the UK.
Since Turner Contemporary opened in 2011, the gallery has generated over £68 million for the Kent economy, train travel to Margate has increased by 64% and the gallery has attracted over 3 million visits. In Summer 2018, 10% of our visitors had never visited an art gallery in their lives before.
Members of the public have been wishing the gallery happy birthday on social media:
Happy Birthday! We were there on your opening day and have been regular visitors ever since, such a great asset to our lovely town!
Have loved being part of the journey in so many ways - happy birthday Turner Contemporary
Remember the opening well, standing with @DawnMCole and @LSGMargate. I can't tell you how proud and excited we were. Thank you for all you've done for #margate and #thanet Happy Birthday.
Happy birthday to my favourite place in Margate