25 April, 2011

Margate and Walpole Bay

A bank holiday visit to Margate with a mate in the London tradition.

Margate is a pleasant seaside resort on the Kent coast now with the added attraction of an art gaallery. Quite by chance me and my mate met one of the trustees of the gallery but tht's a story for later.

Walking along the beach Mate and I were speculating about the nubers who would actuaally be in the gallery, with 10 being packed solid and 1 being empty. I suggested 4 and mate suggested 3. We were both wrong. First impression of the gallery was the cafe, crowded and with people sitting with their cups of tea on the steps - lots of people on the steps. In fact lots of people in the gallery with a very busy but slightly confusing entranceway. We didn't really know where to go

The Turner Contemporary only has one Turner of it's own but puts on exhibitions of contemporary art and shows off a picture of Margate showing the scene before the gallery was built - a pier. The best exhibit was called Arcadia and was scenes of Margate etched into plastic and coloured black in a similar way to a woodcut. Very expressive images that delighted. The knowledgeable attendent explained how they had been done, I think delighted to be asked for her knowledge rather than just telling people to keep their fingers off. All in all a very worthwhile experience.

After lunch in a beer and cider pub with sawdust on the floor and a bell rung if anyone asked for lager (whose location I an not idiot enough to disclose) and a chance to pick up some post lent books (giving up buying books for lent was hard to do) we had a stroll up to another attraction of Margate, The Walpole Bay Hotel.

This is a hotel with a difference, with the proprietor on the reception desk treating her guests like old friends and very enthused about her hotel. The difference being that the hotel was also a museum with many things related to the hotel and the town of Margate. The gallery of napery in the hotel dining room was a tribute to the artits who had stayed in the hotel and had decorated a napkin in their style of painting or particular branch of the arts. Taking the 1927 gated lift to the second floor we looked round the rooms and cupboards filled with artefacts and photographs. The rooms are furnished in period styles, but the bathrooms are very up to date. I wonder if they have a room furnished in utility style?
The proprietor was a trustee of the Turner contemporary and asked us what we thought of the place - so our experience of Margate turned full circle. We left having had a really pleasant day, and hope to come back.