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Turner Contemporary: Building Starts in Margate!

25 November 2008
turner gallery1 Margate
Pupils from Holy Trinity and St Johns Primary School, Margate at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Photo: Phil Houghton. (c)  Turner Contemporary.
turnergallery2 Margate
SEEDA CEO with school children at the groundbreaking ceremony, Margate.
Photo: Phil Houghton. (c)  Turner Contemporary.

Margate’s new seafront Turner Contemporary gallery took a step nearer to completion today when the groundbreaking ceremony at the Rendezvous site near Fort Hill, marked the start of building work.

Around 30 children from Holy Trinity and St Johns Primary School, wearing high visibility jackets, carried large mirrored letters spelling out ‘The sun is God’ - a quotation from the artist, JMW Turner who inspired the creation of the gallery and cited Margate’s sunsets as ‘the most beautiful in Europe.’

The quotation was displayed on a 15ft high specially commissioned piece of artwork, expected to be displayed at a later date in a public space for everyone to enjoy.

Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency which has provided £4 million towards the project, as well as investing £6.5 million into a mixed use scheme based on the old Marks and Spencer building to revitalise Margate town centre, spoke at the event.


"This terrific project is a significant step forward in transforming the economic fortunes of this once vibrant seaside town, as well as creating a world class resource for the local community," she said. "With the anticipation of an internationally recognised cultural offer at its core, we are already beginning to see great creativity in the town. A revitalised town centre will bring real improvements in the quality of the retail, and the attractiveness of the town to residents and visitors alike.

"I am absolutely delighted that a local company, R Durtnell and Son, has won this prestigious contract. It demonstrates that there ARE good news stories for our local businesses, even at this difficult time."

The two-storey glass-clad building has been designed by RIBA award-winning architect, David Chipperfield. A unique glass exterior will ensure the building will make the most of its dramatic seafront setting for the gallery which is expected to be completed in 2011.

The gallery will be operated by the Turner Contemporary Trust chaired by John Kampfner, who concluded: "Trustees have recently been appointed and together they demonstrate a wide mix of expertise and experience. We very much look forward to this next step in Turner Contemporary‘s progress and to taking it forward as a cultural landmark for the South East."

The old Marks and Spencer (acquired by SEEDA on behalf of Thanet District Council) is currently used by Turner Contemporary as temporary project space with rolling exhibitions (prior to the site being redeveloped). This provides Turner Contemporary with valuable project space to practice before the new gallery opens.

SEEDA has also supported the new Creative Art Strategy by Tom Flemming for Margate Town Centre which prepares the Town for the arrival of the Gallery and looks at how other arts uses can help revive the town.

Turner Contemporary aims to not only celebrate Turner, but promote an understanding of the artist’s links with Margate. It will house British and international art from 1750 to the present, and has pledged a commitment to showing work by artists who are currently at the cutting edge of current practise.

Turner Contemporary has been working with local people, schools and partner organisations offering workshops, talks and exhibitions and encouraging people to get involved in the arts. For information on future events go to www.turnercontemporary.org


For further information please contact

Tanya Reed, SEEDA Communications

Tel: 01483 484 200
Email: pressoffice@seeda.co.uk

For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155