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Turner Contemporary has created a five part series of animated short films which look at T.S. Eliot’s 1922 poem, The Waste Land, in new ways. The films, in partnership with digital commissioning agency The Space, which is supported by Arts Council England and the BBC, were developed in response to their current exhibition, Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’, on view until Monday 7th May.

The films focus on resonant themes that The Waste Land connects to and consider the relevance of T.S. Eliot’s poem today: Tracey Emin presents on Margate, Lemn Sissay on Spoken Word, Jeremy Deller on Conflict and its relationship to art, Gemma Cairney on Feminism and Jack Rooke on Mental Health. All of the films have been animated by Margate artist Sprankenstein whose vibrant, hand drawn illustrations respond directly to what the presenters are saying on screen.

Each presenter was invited to respond to questions posed by a group of young people aged between 16 and 25, including: ‘how do you see the future of mental health?’, ‘how importance is silence?’, ‘what would you rename feminism if you could?’ and ‘why do people associate the seaside with escapism?’ Watch the series on Turner Contemporary’s YouTube channel here.

The local group created a series of questions for the presenters during a one-day workshop in which they discovered the poem for the first time. Alongside professionals, they shaped the short films which are being broadcast through the gallery’s digital channels. Daniella Jasper, aged 17, said; “Working with Turner Contemporary on this project has really helped boost my confidence and my communication skills have certainly improved!” This project supports Turner Contemporary’s ongoing work to support children and young people’s leadership through the arts.

Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ is a major exhibition exploring the significance of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land through visual arts, which has been developed over a three year period by a voluntary research group made up of local people. Given the poem’s multiplicity of voices, the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to inspire conversations amongst individuals who have not connected with the poem before. Though the poem is a seminal modernist work, it is not currently represented on the national curriculum, these films aim at making The Waste Land relevant for new audiences.


"You go from one thing, and then you go to classical, then you go to vernacular, then a song, children's stuff. It's like turning the dial on a radio, or going online and looking at stuff randomly. It has that same effect." (Jeremy Deller)

Watch the film with Jeremy Deller here.

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"To actually stop and pause and to have something artistic explore mental health in quite an uncensored way is really brilliant, and probably indicative of why this piece is so prolific and quite unique to the time it came out ..." (Jack Rooke)

Watch the film with Jack Rooke here.


"Enjoy the fact that your interpretation of any line is your job." (Lemn Sissay)

Watch the film with Lemn Sissay here.


"Gender is so many things and I really like that – that we can be whoever we want to be, it would be easier if we didn’t put pressure on ourselves to tick the boxes... to be true to oneself is the most important thing” (Gemma Cairney)

Watch the film with Gemma Cairney here.


"Margate actually saved me. And this waste land, this space, this nature that he refers to — this blanket, this mass of air that comes into you is fantastic because even at the age of 15, 14, I felt it there, and that's why I'm going back." (Tracey Emin)

Watch the film with Tracey Emin here.


Posted by: Turner Contemporary on Mon 23 Apr 2018