The Pier, Margate by James Webb (1868) - currently on show at the Turner Contemporary

This weekend the VV was lucky enough to take a trip to the seaside when she attended the opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate. 

Though Margate was once a grand seaside town about which Lillie Langtry sang (listen to a sample here) and to which Victorian visitors flocked in their hundreds of thousands, nowadays it is somewhat in decline. But, it is hoped that this wonderful new gallery will inspire reinvestment and renovation - and Margate still has an undoubted charm, boasting some beautiful houses and one of the loveliest beaches and skylines that you could wish to see.

The Turner Contemporary (the second building from the left in this photograph) looks directly over the sea, and what's more it is built on the very spot where the artist J.M.W.Turner once used to stay in a guest house, where the favours of his more than accommodating landlady, Sophia Booth, may have enhanced the opinion written to the art critic John Ruskin that ‘…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe.’

The New Moon by JMW Turner

 Waves Breaking on Lee Shore by JMW Turner

Indeed, more than 100 of Turner’s paintings were inspired by the East Kent coast of which The New Moon and Waves Breaking on Lee Shore at Margate (both circa 1840) are very fine examples.

The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains in the island of St Vincent, based on a sketch by Hugh P. Keane.

For now the only work by Turner to adorn the new gallery's walls is The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains - shown above - but from January 2012 the Turner Contemporary will be hosting an extensive exhibition of watercolours and major paintings to be called Turner and the Elements, an event for which the VV is already planning another visit to Margate.

Self portrait by JMW Turner (1775-1851)


  1. Very interesting post - the gallery looks great. On a slightly unrelated topic, throughout my teens I worked as a waitress in a tearoom in Stockbridge named after Lillie Langtry - she and the king used to come to the races nearby. Her picture was printed on all the menus and people always used to say I looked like her! Fascinating to hear her voice in this sample. Thanks for posting the link! Katherine.

  2. Hello VV!
    Great post! Great choice for the Eruption of the Souffrier mountains! Really! I did not know the painting, thank you VV! Great, ye,s because I see so much of a tribute to Ruskin into the painting: the subject, the location, the Earth, rocks, geology!!!... Can't believe this is a coincidence!...It needs to developped for sure!
    Great great great great great VV!!!! Yessss!!! Thank you so much for that post!
    Bonne Journée sous le soleil qui chante!

  3. I think I must do a Lillie langtry post, katherine.

    And Francois, yes the painting is interesting - and it links in very well to another modern installation on show which shows graphite stones as if in an explosion - really stunning. And there is a spiralling metal sculpture that also mimics the whirling upsurge of an eruption - which when seen set against the painting is very powerful.

  4. Me again VV...
    Just reading "Darkness", and thinking of Japan at same time and... The elements...
    Also I find this is interesting no?
    Have a nice day,

  5. Thank you Francois - off to have a look at that link...

  6. Hello VV,
    Byron and Turner meeting in "Ve(n)ice"... Eh, eh, eh! I found it funny...
    A question?
    Also I found some comments from Byron (text to his editor?)after he performed his swimming across the Hellespont. It was about one man called Turner too... A homonymous diplomat I think but I am not sure!? Do you know about it? I am not sure Turner (the painter)went there anyway, even if this were the real place for meeting real amazones too?! ;-)
    Have a nice evening,