Self-portrait by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, 1640-1 © Philip Mould & Co

Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Self-Portrait, 1640-1 ©National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo Philip Mould & Co

Since opening three and a half years ago, Margate’s Turner Contemporary has welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors.

This is thanks to the gallery’s already extensive list of outstanding exhibitions and installations, which endeavour to bring historical and contemporary art together in new and dynamic ways, a list that has included world-class artists such as Carl Andre, John Constable, Tracey Emin, Helen Frankenthaler, Sol LeWitt, Piet Mondrian, Auguste Rodin, Edmund de Waal and of course, JMW Turner.

For 2015, the gallery has an even more ambitious program that is set to draw diverse audiences to Margate, highlight the gallery’s position as one of the leading arts organisations in the UK and last but not least, show the citizens of Thanet how blessed they are – not only the most beautiful skies in Europe (according to JMW Turner), a beach that featured in TS Eliot’s epic poem The Wasteland but also a stunning and very ambitious gallery designed by starchitect David Chipperfield.

Sticking with the theme that runs like a thread through Turner Contemporary’s exhibitions of bringing together historical and contemporary art in a way that makes us see both in a new light, the first exhibition of 2015 will be Self: Image and identity – self-portraiture from Van Dyck to Louise Bourgeois, which runs from 24 January – 10 May 2015.
Organised in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition presents artist self-portraits from the sixteenth-century to the present day. More than 60 works from the National Portrait Gallery will be presented alongside key twentieth-century and contemporary self-portraits from major public and private international collections. Central to the exhibition is Sir Antony Van Dyck’s last self-portrait of 1640-1, purchased in 2014 following a joint public appeal by the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund. Turner Contemporary will be the first venue where visitors can see Van Dyck’s remarkable self-portrait as it embarks on a major nationwide tour.

Self portrait-bronze-Louise Bourgeois - Collection the Easton Foundation Photo Christopher Burke

Louise Bourgeois Self Portrait ©Collection the Easton Foundation. Photo Christopher Burke

Taking Van Dyck’s legacy and self-portrait as a starting point, the development of the genre of self-portraiture will be considered in the exhibition through four key themes: identity, mortality, patronage and contemporary approaches. From historical representation to contemporary responses, such as Jason Evans’s new commission Sound System Self-Portrait, the exhibition features more than 100 artists including Louise Bourgeois, John Constable, Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Angelia Kauffmann, Sarah Lucas, JMW Turner and Gillian Wearing.

Grayson Perry, Precious Boys, 2004, Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro © Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry Precious Boys, 2004, Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro ©Grayson Perry

Next up is Grayson Perry, who will be exhibiting throughout the summer from 23 May – 13 September 2015. Grayson Perry’s work combines references relating to his own life with his trademark droll social commentary on themes that are close to his heart such as class and taste to the status of the artist versus that of an artisan or maker. What sums up Perry’s practice is very much a passionate desire to share his thoughts on aspects of contemporary experience.

This exhibition presents a selection of Grayson Perry’s ceramics and other artworks including tapestries, prints, bronze and iron sculpture. Working in traditional media, he is interested in how each historic category of object accrues intellectual and emotional baggage over time. For anyone who loved his wonderful exhibition The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum in 2011, this will present the opportunity to once more see Perry as the great recorder of contemporary life that he is, drawing us in to his exquisitely crafted works with beauty, wit, sentiment and nostalgia. Although always charming, don’t mistake Perry for a mere whimsical chronicler; he is always at the same time exploring issues within society and culture that instigate fear, uncertainty and anger.

Simon Faithful - EZY1899 Reenactment for a Future Scenario 2012 - Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Polaris Paris

Simon Faithful EZY1899 Reenactment for a Future Scenario, 2012  Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Polaris Paris

The last exhibition of 2015 will be Risk, which runs from 7 October 2015 and finishes 17 January 2016.
Creating art is risky by nature; it always involves an element of the unknown – a gap between intent and outcome. During the last century artists have sought to expand that gap and, in so doing, challenge the status of the artwork as a closed object. The exhibition will propose risk as an important element of key artistic moments during the last century, which continues to feature in contemporary practice. Risk has played a role in Abstract Expressionist painting, post-minimal sculpture and ‘process’ art, performance art, and work made in the context of and responding to political conditions around the world, among other practices. Featuring works from the twentieth-century to the present day, the exhibition will bring together artworks and artistic practices that engaged directly with risk exploring the subject through a range of themes: the intersection between risk and chance; the artist at risk; the contemporary landscape of risk; materials and processes and exposure and self-revelation.

JMW Turner Study for Rokeby 1822 Tate London

JMW Turner Study for Rokeby 1822  ©Tate London

Among the artists presented in the exhibition are Marina Abramoviç, Francis Alÿs, Marcel Duchamp, Simon Faithfull, Gerhard Richter, JMW Turner and performances by Jasmin Vardimon Company.

2015 is also the year of the duality that is ‘Mexico in the UK and the UK in Mexico’ which has inspired Turner Contemporary to show an installation by Mexican artist Carlos Amorales. The installation will be presented in Turner Contemporary’s Sunley Gallery which has previously hosted Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss, an almost secular space with its double height windows and breathtaking views of the North Sea.

Carlos Amorales We'll see how all reverberates

Carlos Amorales We Will See How Everything Reverberates, 2012 ©Carlos Amorales

Carlos Amorales works in a range of media to explore the use and limits of language. The centrepiece of Amorales’s installation in the Sunley Gallery, We Will See How Everything Reverberates (2012), is a sculpture of suspended symbols based on the shape of Alexander Calder’s mobiles. As with Edmund de Waal’s recent piece, Atmosphere, visitors are invited to interact. This time it won’t be to lie on the floor to use the exhibition as a tool to encourage silent contemplation but rather to play the cymbals in a work that exists both in silence and harmony as well as chaos and noise.

Margate and Turner Contemporary is 1 hour 30 minutes from St Pancras in London on the highspeed train. Check Southeastern Railway for timetable and prices.

Self: Image and identity – self-portraiture from Van Dyck to Louise Bourgeois
24 January – 10 May 2015

Grayson Perry
23 May – 13 September 2015

7 October 2015 – 17 January 2016

Carlos Amorales
February 2015 – January 2016
Sunley Gallery

Words by Anna Bang


Angelia Kauffmann, anna bang, Antony Van Dyck, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Francis Alÿs, Gerhard Richter, Gillian Wearing, Grayson Perry, Jasmin Vardimon Company, JMW Turner, John Constable, Louise Bourgeois, Lucian Freud, Marcel Duchamp, Marina Abramoviç, Sarah Lucas, Simon Faithfull, Turner Contemporary,