ORGAN THING: I Just Can’t Think Straight, Margate Pride’s riot of artistic attitude at the Turner Contemporary…

“I just Can’t Thnk Straight”, Margate Pride at the Turner Contemporary

With just one week of the Open at Margate’s beautifully shaped Turner Contemporary to go, we take a look and share a flavour or two of the room curated by Margate Pride with the help of participating artist Emma Harvey and her photos. The exhibition features four rooms full of work including Margate Pride’s gloriously curated room “I Just Can’t Think Straight”. The Open was an open call to artists based and working in Kent to celebrate the gallery’s tenth anniversary on the seafront at Margate. Alas, the Covid situation has stopped us getting there ourselves, but we do have Amma on the case and the we can’t let the show pass without a mention, I mean, take a look at those photos, clearly something that needs to acknowledged and celebrated on these fractured pages  There’s way too many artists in there to start picking out names but that Charles Williams piece is worth a particular mention and good to see Sadie Hennessy’s piece is in there just beneath Emma’s own piece, one of her ongoing series of circle paintings, a particularly Riot Grrrl flavoured one, which, for those of you who know Emma Harvey’s work is no surprise.  

Of the excellently named I Just Can’t Think Straight room, Margate Pride said…

Margate Pride celebrates the other: that and those deemed unordinary and at odds with mainstream culture. Through our selection of artworks, we sought out the queer and alternative, the imagery, visions, forms, materials and actions that spoke directly to our senses and experiences of life. 

Loose themes presented themselves to us: politics, protest, visibility, identity, spaces and faces. Identity is personal and varied, and we wanted to celebrate that in our gallery. We selected the artwork anonymously, with no knowledge of the maker’s identity and our readings of the work are our own individual responses. The intersection of identities, politics and communities collides in an eclectic collection of artworks. By connecting the individual and minority people, new communities and systems appear, and the unexpected and original can flourish.

“I just Can’t Thnk Straight”, Margate Pride at the Turner Contemporary

Seeing the world with a different lens is inherently queer. Embracing, accepting, and celebrating these alternatives is at the core of Margate Pride’s ethos. We seek to make queerness visible as a form of celebration and protest, to make it easier for future generations to live as their full authentic selves. Boundaries and borders being challenged, movement, migration and alienation, dissociation and comradery, representation and visibility. These topics and themes manifest through a multitude of scenarios and forms, which spoke to us as a collective, and we are excited to present a perspective of our community to Turner Contemporary’s audiences….

There’s certainly a powerful energy in the Pride room, a pride as well as Pride, a pride of artists, a visual strength, a wonderfully curated room, an exciting hang, a challenge as well as a few questions (and maybe an answer or two) thrown out….

“Have to say it was a real buzz, it really felt sooooooooo good! I’m still on a high” said Emma, “the Margate Pride room ‘I Just Can’t Think Straight’ was exceptionally good, with that truly exciting feel of walking into a really interesting contemporary art show. It felt so alive and vibrant and just an insane buzz from entering the room (felt like walking into a really good gig). We walked into the Pride room and suddenly things changed, there were some really interesting, thought provoking pieces that made you really look, feel excited, intrigued, made you laugh, made you smile, made you feel alive…. a really good mix of work and mediums with lots of painting (Rose Wylie, Charles Williams, Anna Bush, Jordan Buckner), some excellent sculptural pieces and installations (Rebecca Raynor, Ba Stunt, Oliver Herbert), amazing photographic and print works (Michelle Marshall, Eric Parker, Helen Excell) and the big pink video box installation in the middle of the room with the lettering all falling off just looked so great… and now I really think about it I do have to go back and see it again, I’ve probably missed mentioning so many great pieces here….It was just really, really good”

“I just Can’t Thnk Straight”, Margate Pride at the Turner Contemporary

The photos from the pride room to convey some of that feeling, some of that excitement, “What a great thing they’ve done in doing that exhibition, it feels really special, so good that the gallery have given people working and living in Kent that opportunity…”.

It does indeed feel like a fitting way to celebrate the space and everything it brings to Margate and the surrounding area, a fitting way for a gallery to celebrate the creativity that’s around them, something the Turner Contemporary should be comended for, something that’s being mirrored around the land at the moment in shows like the current one at Storiel Gallery in North Wales (by the way, I can’t remember when I last time I saw the work of an East London based artist in the establishment galleries of East London).  The Pride room looks fantastic, the art looks exciting, the hang looks glorious, the artists warrant further investigation, I see the aforementioned Charles Williams has a show coming up at Hackney’s New Art Projects space soon. I only wish currents circumstances hadn’t stopped us travelling to places like Margate over the last few months or indeed for the last couple of years now, we need more seaside treats. (sw)

Links – Emma Harvey / Turner Contemporary / Notes on the Margate Pride room / Margate Pride Facebook

The Turner Contemporary Open is on until February 20th, more info here, entry is free

Do please click on an image to enlarge or to run the slide show

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