day trip to Margate

February 23, 2014

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The day starts  – for the young – with pasta salad, crisps, Red Bull and bars of chocolate and it’s only 9.30am. Good for them. We rattle along, just, through Rye, Ashford, Folkestone and Dover, Deal, Sandwich and then Ramsgate, Broadstairs skirting the edge of the Isle of Thanet – looking at flooded land through one side and then the sea, sometimes, on the other –  until we arrive at Margate.

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station clock

Margate station was designed by Maxwell Fry – a name from the past – with spacious platforms and booking hall under high curved ceiling and a clock that looks decidedly older. Straight down the hill sits the town with the new Turner Contemporary seemingly looking out to sea – except it doesn’t – just appears to.

first view

beach huts

Droit House built 1812 marks the start of the pier or harbour arm. It has a formal presence next to an asymmetrical new build. You would have paid your harbour dues there years ago but now it’s the information point. Georgian architecture spans the promenade with later decorative additions added for the delight of holiday makers over the 150 year stretch before the advent of cheap flights and bucket holidays. Many buildings have a knapped flint façade and are petite in structure. Quite a few have the curved Dutch gable style to the roofline like the original town hall. The old town is compact with rather charming connecting squares and retains a sense of its history with new shops and facilities (lots of eateries) providing a fresh and energetic atmosphere. The Shell Grotto deserves a visit even if shells are not your bag. Winding underground passages – (about 3 metres below street level) – richly patterned with this very tactile surface cause much wonderment.

architecture

town hall

shell grotto

shell grotto 4

shell grotto 2

A terraced amphitheatre connects The Parade to the big sandy beach. The scale is good and it should be a useful facility . . .

closer view

over amphitheatre

harbour's arm 2

. .  on a day like today it could be Tangier.

beach + sea

munoz 1

Inside the new gallery, Conversation Piece by Muñoz, welcomes the visitor immediately. Whimsical and enigmatic, the bronze figures, slightly smaller than human scale, appear to roll and pivot, in the space, talking or gesturing to each other oblivious to the rest of us. A sort of topsy turvy feel.

munoz 5

turner

Turner has been partnered with Frankenthaler for this temporary exhibition – 100 years and a few thousand miles apart but speaking the same language in terms of how the natural surroundings are expressed and shared in oil and water-colour.

frankenthaler 2

frankanthaler1

Images from the web, I’m afraid, as no photos of the hung work allowed. Frankenthaler: ‘Overture’ (T), ‘Covent Garden Study for Final Maquette (L) + Hotel Cro-Magnon (R).

making painting

covent garden study      final maquette fro Third Movement

1st floor

1st floor 2

And the works of Turner – so very beautiful – so beyond boundaries, more abstract and filled with light.  A lesson in distance, quiet atmosphere and composition. ‘Calais Sands at Low Water: Poissards Collecting Bait’ (L), ‘The Evening Star’ (R) + ‘The Falls of the Clyde’ (B). Tables held books and research information. I couldn’t have asked for a better subject to assist in front of the quote.

calais sands      evening star

falls of the clyde

research

A potential Turner sky whipped in and then whipped out again. Great day.

turner sky

last pm

The lost self changes,
Turning toward the sea,
A sea-shape turning around, —
An old man with his feet before the fire,
In robes of green, in garments of adieu.
A man faced with his own immensity
Wakes all the waves, all their loose wandering fire.
The murmur of the absolute, the why
Of being born falls on his naked ears.
His spirit moves like monumental wind
That gentles on a sunny blue plateau.
He is the end of things, the final man.

All finite things reveal infinitude:
The mountain with its singular bright shade
Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,
The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
Odor of basswood on a mountain-slope,
A scent beloved of bees;
Silence of water above a sunken tree :
The pure serene of memory in one man, —
A ripple widening from a single stone
Winding around the waters of the world.  Theodore Roethke  The Far Field

11 Responses to “day trip to Margate”

  1. elizabethwix Says:

    A splendid post and perfect poem. Roethke gets things precisely right. I gave not been to Margate for 50 years. Is Dreamland still there?

  2. Sally Court Says:

    Fabulous Julia. Its a long time since I visited Margate and in those days the only claim to fame that I knew about was that it had “the longest lugworms in the UK”. Now I am armed with many more interesting facts.


  3. Nice post Julia. I hope to be holidaying in Canterbury in the Autumn- this reminds me to put Margate on my list. Love your pics as ever but not sure about the breakfast! Cup of coffee and a croissant would do me.

  4. Seb Says:

    Looks amazing and will add to the list of places to visit, lovely weather too a bonus!

  5. Tom Says:

    Amazing diets these teenagers! But they seem happy enough. Your ‘great day’ really comes through in language and image.

    Growing up, Margate always seemed to have a terrible reputation; decline, drugs, a town that had lost its purpose. But that doesn’t seem the case here at all.

    I imagine it’s been purposefully regenerated. It looks successful. Is it?

    Really enjoyed the post, belatedly…

  6. julia fogg Says:

    thanks for visiting. the dilapidated fun fair ‘Dreamland’, which many remember fondly from childhood memories, is being revamped. this will make huge difference to footfall and income to the town. Interesting place and hope to visit Ramsgate + Broadstairs – neighbouring resorts – next time the gallery puts on something interesting.


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