Friday, April 22, 2011

You can take the Costa Brava....

Two short photo based posts, bracketed together because they're both about the Kent coast. The first is yet another visit to Margate, this time involving me masquerading as an architectural journalist and attending the press launch of David Chipperfield's new Turner Contemporary (I've reviewed it for Architecture Today). The second trip is to Dover, this time in the company of the nice people at DAD who gave us a tour around town revealing some nice buildings I hadn't seen before. The quality of photos for this second section is generally abysmal. Apologies, but I forgot my camera and made do with the one on my ailing iphone. So, without further ado....

The new Turner Contemporary is visible the moment you step out of the  Maxwell Fry designed train station...its windowless sheddy form making it an oddly scaleless object in relation to the rest of the town.

Closer up it there is another, slightly less refined and much smaller shed in front of it.

As part of the gallery's initial exhibition, Daniel Buren has installed a window graphic that evokes the kind of sunrise that you will never experience looking out in real life, as the building faces due north.  

Mirrors at the either end infinitely extend the effect.....

 well as the building itself.....


....doubling the kind of contemporary paraphernalia that even the staunchest minimalist can't edit out.

I'll leave any further comments about the building for the review, but suffice to say it's about art, with a capital A.

Once out of the gallery we were free to wander the streets of Margate, where not everything was boarded up B+B's and down-at-heel seaside pathos.

19th century streets in the sky. The bridge connects two parts of Margate's Old Town Hall, which until recently housed a museum, one of those fabulously weird collections of musty waxworks and random artifacts. It's currently closed.

I'm a sucker for a gable. And this is a good one, and comes with a cute little friend for company. 

Nice upside-down window surrounds.

Olly Wainright spotted this first I think: where life meets art and life is rhythm, to paraphrase Warren G.


This slightly dilapidated camera shop had a great sign with a lovely font and a straightforward approach to retail branding. 

The sadly, defunct wooden rollercoaster of the former Dreamland amusement park was visible across this expanse of tarmac as we headed back to the station.

Arlington House, Margate's one and inevitably unloved tower block had some quite cool, Vorticist things going on with its rippling facade. Oh I supposed I'd like to live there would I etc.etc.

So, we left Margate, back home to waspish commentary in the Groucho club no doubt. In the foreground is some public art that was helpfully labelled as "Public Art".

In Dover I visited the former Post Office sorting depot where I found this impromptu bit of bricolage. It seemed both artfully arranged and, close up.....

...oddly poignant. Do all the empty bags go to Upton?

"This box is for odd shaped post cards....".

A nice assemblage of the brutalist BT switchboard building and the crown green bowling club....two of the very few things that make one proud to be British. There was also a touch of Stirling's Florey Building in Oxford about the BT centre's patent glazed, cranking facade.

Which was interesting, because there was a touch of early Stirling, or perhaps James Gowan, in the K College building nearby. The chamfered corners and vaguely castle-like massing, are a particularly British strand of post-war architecture, modernism with the rough edges smoothed off. It's a sort of modern medievalism encapsulated in Cedric Price's quip "Just the middle ages with 13 amp power sockets".

How it is again...this time with a giant K on the lawn and some nice sculptural external staircases. This building and a whole number of interesting bits of 20th century architecture form part of a guide book and walk produced by DAD and artist Nigel Green.

If you look hard you can see a very, very small model of Stonehenge in the middle of this abandoned car park. It's just behind Burlington House, another much hated seaside tower block which has become the unfortunate villain in the town's ongoing attempts at regeneration (a typical internet forum thread of local dislike of the tower can be read here).

This is where people start and finish the North Downs Way - if they head inland - or the channel crossing if they head the other. The information booth is helpfully and very deliberately placed to totally obscure the artwork that marks this point.


Richmonde said...

Nice! Like that rippling tower block.

AM said...

Another great post
I wonder why (almost) no one comment
Loved the beautiful “slightly less refined” shed
Loved the little, tinny, Stonehenge
Loved that suspended diagonal gallery
The Dover Information reminds me of Philadelphia Museum of Art West Foyer (VSBA, 86-89) in a Fellini kind a way...

Rube said...

How you can turn a couple of ordinary(in a good way) pics and minimum text into so entertaining a post, is something I really admire.


Charles Holland said...

Thanks for kind comments all.

AM, I had assumed there were very few comments because everyone was bored of Margate...