I go to a Creative Writing Group and some months ago we were given a task of visiting The Turner Gallery in Margate. One of my friends, Karen, also belongs to the Group so we went together, followed by a nice lunch!
Because we were there together with the same project in mind, I wanted to ensure our work was different, so I came up with the idea of writing as of the building itself, and the building first of all wrote a poem(!) and then continued in prose! I later sent a copy to Admin at the Turner Gallery and they displayed it for a while, so I thought you might like to see it for yourselves:-
The Turner Contemporary (poem and prose written in the voice of the Building)
I’ve only stood here three years in my finished form
Yes, two thousand and eleven was the year that I was born.
They said I wasn’t needed, that nobody would go
that Margate people don’t like art. Well, who are they to know?
Critics blamed the Thanet Council and said “what a waste of cash”
but to suggest folk are all philistines was definitely crass.
A million visitors so far have proved those critics wrong
and I plan to stand eternally amidst the wind and ocean’s song.
(Still the building speaking…..)
Apologies, but I felt it important to begin with my poem. I know buildings don’t usually write poems but forgive my audacity as I’m not a normal building. I am regal and far-seeing. I am built on a plinth to protect me from the high winds and sea and I am made of six identical interlocking rectangular blocks, with a pitched 20% angle roof. And windows – well, I must be the king of windows I reckon! I call them my eyes and I share them with all my visitors so that we can capture the ever-changing light conditions, reflecting the colours found in Turner’s paintings.
I’m named after Joseph Turner who was born on 23rd April 1775 and died on 19th December 1851. He was an English Romantic landscape painter and loved Margate. Some information stuck on my walls says that Joseph used to come here on holiday with his parents from the age of 11. I have also heard since standing here something that surprised me – did you know that until the early 1800s landscapes were rare in England and artists went to Italy or the South of France because of the perceived superior light? Well, after experiencing the Margate skies, Turner changed this idea, and so did Constable.
Besides big eyes, I also have enormous ears and a gigantic lift! My ears often hear my visitors exclaiming over the fact that my lift will accommodate 100 people, but it needs to be that large, of course, to carry all the varying sized exhibits.
One visitor, I think her name was Gillian, overheard someone say “That was first exhibited in Chatham Dockyard”. On looking around to find the item she saw what she thought was a poem called “Ephemeral Rays” by an art student, Charlotte Smith, but later she realised it was actually a description of Charlotte’s light-bulbs exhibit, which was fascinating.
Gillian was quite taken with a sculpture by Irish artist Dorothy Cross. At first sight it looked like a baby basking shark, or what remained of its grey, leathery skin. On closer inspection the stand over which the skin was stretched turned out to be a small boat or coracle, turned upside down. The ribbed boat (called a curragh in Ireland) was draped with the remains of the shark skin, with the keel of the boat fitting neatly inside the shark’s fin.
I like having Dorothy Cross’s artistry inside my building – she brings everything together with her quote “The Turner Gallery is another form of landscape”.