Monday, August 06, 2012

Margate Cartival

Margate Sands; photo by Val Phoenix
Margate beach; photo by Val Phoenix
Sun, sea, sand, cross-dressing.... Yes, Margate's got it all, or at least did on my day trip yesterday, which happened to coincide with a soul weekend and Carnival! Well-timed.

As was my trip to see the shiny, new Olympic-branded Turner Contemporary, site of enfant terrible Tracey Emin's homecoming exhibit, And She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea. Ironic to see Emin brought in to help regenerate her hometown, which produced so many terrible experiences for her growing up and was the spur to much of her early art.

Here she is in more or less placid form, working through her Blue Period of nude figures. The figures are her, of course, and are mostly reclining with arched backs. Her work is juxtaposed with that of Rodin and Turner, but in a way I found unconvincing. Actually, I didn't find any of the drawings particularly engaging, as those of the men seemed objectifying and Emin's were too porny for my taste. Interestingly, a lot of children were visiting, and the boys ran away from the drawings, giggling. One has to ask: why bring children to a show that is warned as being of adult nature? And if you do bring them, why not use the opportunity to discuss the isses and perhaps educate the kids, eh? No, that didn't happen.

Much more intriguing was Lindsay Seers' installation, Entangled, shown in a secret location in order to enhance its insular, immersive qualities. OK, it was just a shed at the back, but being led into a room and handed wireless headphones while staring at two white orbs did pique one's curiosity about what was to follow. And seeing two male impersonators at work on local music hall stages was a win-win for me. Interestingly, the two figures cited as inspiration for these women were Hetty King, about whom I know little, and Vesta Tilley, whom I discovered while researching my Cabaret Special. I found some old wax cylinders that had been digitised and was able to play one of her numbers. So, it was a treat to see what she looked like in her role as "Britain's Foremost Male Impersonator". Much to ponder here, and the orbs worked wonderfully as screens. It was its last day, though, so you've missed it.

Later I picked my way through the Carnival, which made its way up the hill past the gallery, bearing such luminaries as Miss Herne Bay and so forth. I made my way to the beautiful golden sands, wiggled my toes in the incoming surf and found myself mesmerised by the beauty of the sky meeting the sea. Nature still puts on the best show.

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