Deller, Margate and Broadstairs: part 1

Dan at the Turner

You can't beat a bit of local knowledge and you can't do better than Dan Thompson (late of Worthing, now resident of up-and-coming Margate) as your personal guide. The Jeremy Deller exhibition was ending on Sunday so I booked me a Tuesday night at the highly recommended boutique B&B The Reading Rooms and set off in the direction of Ashford International. I wasn't looking forward to an hour's wait for the Margate Flyer, but when I got there slightly early I was able to jump on the Javelin an hour earlier than planned. The Fat Controller's computer obviously thought it would take me more than 4 minutes to change platforms.

Margate station detail

Dan was waiting for me at the very grand station and we took a moment to appreciate the exterior, especially the plaques, as we paused once more down the road at Dreamland.

Dreamland, Margate

I caught a glimpse of Dreamland and its vintage roller coasters from the train as I arrived and am looking forward to its restoration. We could see the Turner Contemporary across the bay and headed for it along the beach.

 First view of the Turner Contemporary, Margate.

The signage identifying it is very minimal, but it was pretty obvious this was a modern art gallery. I'd been to Margate once before, to see a Mr Solo gig, and I'm assuming it wasn't yet built then (in 2010). The inside of the Turner is very light and spacious, with lockers, a bookshop and cafe on the ground floor - and they don't mind you taking photos. The Deller show English Magic was upstairs and was mainly (I think, I haven't read the info yet) a rerun of his Venice Biennale show. In the first room were some real Turners, and a big mural of William Morris flinging Roman Abramovich's gin palace Luna into the briny, entitled We sit starving amidst our gold, painted by Stuart Sam Hughes. Deller is perhaps the most accessible conceptual artist and it's notable that he makes nothing himself, acting more as a sort of curator, and everything has a left-leaning socialist subtext.

Dan takes a snap

The next room had a film of owls, a Stonehenge bouncy castle and the crushing of land rovers, with a catchy steel band soundtrack, and I'll bet not many folks realised the bench they were sitting on was one of those squashed cars. The final gallery (we pass through rooms with drawings by prisoners and soldiers, and photos taken the year of David Bowie's Ziggy tour 1972-3) has another big mural A good day for cyclists (Sarah Tynan) depicting a hen harrier carrying off another Range Rover and a display of prehistoric axes and arrowheads.

Shy curator

There was a 'touching station' were we were allowed to handle some flint axes and look at a William Morris printing block. I watched the patient curator try to explain the concept of relief printing to a gentleman who just didn't get it. Had he waited until 3pm the other station would have opened, where rubber stamps of the two murals explained the process simply and effectively. These were just two of the giveaways at the exhibition - Deller is very generous with his prints, etc. It closes on Sunday so get your skates on.

Close up

After a wander about the Old Town, Dan delivered me to Hawley Square and the B&B so posh it doesn't have a sign outside. I was in the first floor Room 1 and it was gorgeous, far too grand for the likes of me, with every conceivable luxury, including heated floorboards, two sinks! and a walk in shower.

For an early supper, Dan collected me and we went down to the front to GB Pizzas - I had a Jerusalem artichoke, hazelnut and rocket one, plus a bottle of Whitstable ale. Then after we braved the harbour cobb to find a micropub hidden away there - The Harbour Arms - for a pint of Norfolk Brewhouse Moon Gazer Black IPA (yes, I thought IPA was pale too). Then it was back to the B&B to watch Silent Witness and Count Arthur Strong before losing myself in the giant comfy bed!

Read what Roundhill Rob had to say on Thanet.

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