I went down to Margate to visit the new Turner Contemporary musuem. From the outside not a great building in my ever so humble, but once inside its a fantastic space.
The current exhibition centres on Turner’s painting The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains, in the Island of St Vincent, at Midnight, on the 30th of April, 1812. (pictured above)
The six contemporary artists in the exhibition work in the same spirit of enquiry, invention and interest in the natural world that flourished during Turner’s lifetime. Just as Turner explored nature in paint and colour, so these contemporary artists play at the borders between what we can see and know and the truly fantastic. Four of the artists have made new work for the opening of Turner Contemporary. Like Turner, their work responds to the special setting of the gallery in Margate, on the North Kent coast.
Conrad Shawcross is fascinated by science and philosophy, and his work evokes the forces governing the universe. His dramatic new installation draws together a number of threads evident in his practice. A suspended rotating light sculpture fills the gallery with shadows from a large bronze ‘tree’ sculpture, taking the form of a sound wave from a harmonic chord that appears to grow from the gallery floor.
The museum shop is pretty good too but the 14,000 visitors who attended on the first day (they were only expecting 5,000) seemed to have left gaps in the shelves. I was very pleased to see a nice selection of Art Angels cards, my ABSENCE design being one of them.
A couple of days earlier in a charity shop I was lucky enough to scoop an original box of 24 rings of PLAYPLAX so it was great to find in the Turner Contemporary shop a newly reissued box.
Invented by Patrick Rylands in 1966, PlayPlax went on to sell over a million copies.
Patrick was an art student when he first came up with the concept of these brilliant interlocking squares. PlayPlax is in the permanent collection of the V & A and demonstrates perfectly that the best toys are the simplest.