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Turner Contemporary opens

13 April 2011

Margate’s new Turner Contemporary gallery, one of the largest and most important spaces for art outside London, opened to the public on Saturday 16 April 2011.

Tracey Emin and Jools Holland launched the gallery with children from local school, Holy Trinity and St Johns.

“I am thrilled to be opening the gallery on Saturday 16 April alongside Tracey Emin and Jools Holland. It will be a momentous day for Turner Contemporary and for Margate, and the moment we open the doors and see visitors entering this fantastic new building will be very special.”- Victoria Pomery, Director, Turner Contemporary

Taking inspiration from Britain’s best-known painter JMW Turner, who was a regular visitor to Margate throughout his life, the gallery is situated on the sea front on the site of a guesthouse frequented by the artist. To mark this connection there will always be works by Turner on display in the gallery for visitors to enjoy.

Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of the South East England Development Agency and Chair of the Margate Renewal Partnership, said: "The opening of the Turner Contemporary is a huge step into the future for Margate. As an international venue, it will bring an exciting buzz to the town and create new opportunities for the people of Margate and the local economy. With the recent letting of the former M&S building in the town centre and the plans for Dreamland, it is a landmark in our work to regenerate and revitalise Margate. The project has been a great example of collaboration and we hope it will demonstrate how the arts and culture can stimulate regeneration, and we are proud our £4m investment has supported the creation of this world class Gallery."

“The opening of Turner Contemporary marks the start of an extraordinary opportunity for Margate and Thanet to become one of the UK’s most compelling culture and tourism destinations. I would like to pay tribute to Kent County Council and our other partners for delivering this outstanding building on time and on budget.” – John Kampfner, Chair, Turner Contemporary.

Kent County Council (KCC) officially handed the building over to the Turner Contemporary Trust in December 2010 marking a significant milestone in the creation of the gallery. KCC stayed committed to seeing the project through and for Cabinet member Mike Hill, it has been a particularly personal journey.

"I have been involved since the very beginning and I am immensely proud of the hard work of so many people who have worked tirelessly to reach the opening day. It is a magnificent building which will provide many different opportunities for local people and visitors from far and wide, to come and enjoy what is on offer and help build the local economy of Margate and East Kent."- Mike Hill, Cabinet Member for Community Services

Turner Contemporary’s exhibitions programme shows a unique combination of contemporary art alongside historical work, demonstrating a particular focus on the art, thought and the legacy of JMW Turner.

“We’re proud to support Turner Contemporary, and we’re looking forward to the year ahead with its programme of high quality international contemporary art. Turner Contemporary will be integral to local life and vital to regeneration, with long lasting benefits for the community. Great art enriches lives, and this gallery will help more people experience and be inspired by the arts.” - Sally Abbott, Regional Director, South East, Arts Council England.

The opening exhibitionRevealed: Turner Contemporary Opens explores the themes of imagination, discovery, wonder and the creative spirit. Centred on JMW Turner’s extraordinary but little-known 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, Esqre1815, on loan from Victoria Gallery and Museum, University of Liverpool, the exhibition will feature the work of six major international artists Daniel Buren, Russell Crotty, TeresitaFernández, Douglas Gordon, Ellen Harvey and Conrad Shawcross, including four important new commissions.

The opening exhibition will be followed by: 

  • Nothing in the World but Youth (17 September 2011 - 8 January 2012)

An exhibition exploring how youth experience has been reflected in art, culture and the media from the late nineteenth century to the present day. 

  • Hamish Fulton: Walk  (17 January – 6 May 2012)

Hamish Fulton's first one-person show in the UK since 2002, will include new work made as the result of the group walks in Kent that we commissioned in the lead up to the opening of Turner Contemporary. 

  • Turner and the Elements (28 January – 13 May 2012)

The gallery’s first major exhibition of works by JMW Turner a collaboration with BuceriusKunst Forum, Hamburg and National Museum, Cracow, exploring the important role that the depiction of the elements played in Turner’s landscapes, watercolours and late paintings.

For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155