Arts & Culture
by Aspect County


Last month we looked at Hastings Contemporary, Towner and DLWP so it would be wrong not to also consider the last in the southeast coast cultural string of pearls” – Turner Contemporary, Margate.

2023 01 10 Feeling Her Way At The British Pavilion Featuring The Devotional Collection 2022 Cristiano Corte British Council

© Turner Contemporary, Margate

Situated on the seafront, Turner Contemporary is one of the UK’s leading contemporary art galleries. Since opening its doors in 2011, it has been a place for artistic exploration and discovery. Built on the site of the boarding house where JMW Turner stayed during his visits to Margate, the gallery is inspired by the life and work of the celebrated artist, who found inspiration in the town’s skies and light and believed in the power of art as an agent for change. 

Noted for its progressive architecture, designed by David Chipperfield, Turner Contemporary has certainly proved to be an agent for change for Margate.

The Telegraph [Margate] is again fizzing with artistic energy, transformed into a key destination for art-lovers thanks to a cultural renaissance sparked by the opening in 2011 of the Turner Contemporary.

Feeling Her Way featuring four performers Errollyn Wallen Tanita Tikaram Poppy Ajudha Jacqui Dankworth 2022 Cristiano Corte British Council

Feeling Her Way Featuring Performers Jacqui Dankworth And Sofia Jernberg – 2022 © Turner Contemporary, Margate

When I visited on an early February Saturday afternoon to view the Sonia Boyce Feeling her way’ exhibition, you could be forgiven for thinking it was the height of summer. Margate seafront was positively buzzing with people and the gallery itself was bursting at the seams. Acquiring a table in the harbour view café was almost impossible and all the surrounding eateries were fully booked. The gallery shop, which features artworks, limited edition prints and specially commissioned clothing and objects by leading contemporary artists and designers was also doing a roaring trade.

2023 01 10 Feeling Her Way Featuring Performers Jacqui Dankworth And Sofia Jernberg 2022 Cristiano Corte British Council

Feeling Her Way Featuring Performers Jacqui Dankworth And Sofia Jernberg – 2022 © Turner Contemporary, Margate

The Sonia Boyce exhibition Feeling Her Way’, won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2022. Commissioned by the British Council for the British Pavilion, the installation combines video, collage, music, and sculpture to present a body of work that centres around the vocal experimentation of five Black female musicians.

Featuring Jacqui Dankworth, Poppy Ajudha, Sofia Jernberg, Tanita Tikaram, and composer Errollyn Wallen, these intergenerational musicians were brought together by Boyce at Abbey Road Studios in London and Atlantis Studios in Stockholm to improvise, interact, and play with their voices. Colour-tinted video works take centre stage among tessellating wallpapers, created by Boyce, and golden 3‑D geometric structures, which immerse the audience in the work through their highly reflective surfaces.

The commission also expands on Boyce’s Devotional Collection’, built over 20 years and spanning more than three centuries, which honours the substantial contribution of Black British female musicians to public life and transnational culture.

Sonia Boyce said: I am so excited Turner Contemporary will be hosting Feeling Her Way for the first leg of the exhibition’s tour. To see the evolution of this project back in the UK feels incredibly significant to me, especially in Margate, which is coming into its own as a dynamic cultural hotspot.”

Personally, I found the exhibition both provocative and nostalgic – thoughtful and joyous. Moving through the various spaces I experienced a gradual seeping; of both the music and images, into my subconscious, slowly revealing and releasing long forgotten emotions and memories. What seemed quite light-hearted on initial approach, slowly revealed itself as a complex journey of personal discovery; as you literally feel your way through the various spaces – some quite dark, others brighter and louder – gradually absorbing sound, film, and the wistful nostalgia of the shiny, geometric aesthetic, redolent of many a 1970s living room!

The exhibition continues until 8 May. I highly recommend you visit, but, if you want to eat in Margate – book ahead! I would recommend the Buoy and Oyster on the High Street. Great food and a view of the beach if you request a window table. 

Written by Lesley Samms MSc ANLP MAC FRSA

02 Artist Sonia Boyce OBE RA at the British Pavilion 2022 Cristiano Corte British Council

02 Artist Sonia Boyce OBE RA at the British Pavilion, 2022. Cristiano Corte © British Council