Postcard from Margate, Kent

Here's my last postcard of photos from 2011: New Year’s Eve in Margate on the North Foreland in Kent. We travelled out from London on the 140mph rail service from London St Pancras.

Margate is home to the “Turner Contemporary - a dynamic visual arts organisation”; this power house of the arts is housed in a new building by David Chipperfield Architects; it is reminiscent of a trio of reactor halls at a nuclear power station.

As well as one of “The Kiss” from Auguste Rodin’s workshop (the sublime moment surrounded by what Kenny Everett might have called the Naffs of 2011), we saw the current exhibition “Nothing in the World But Youth”. Lots of interesting pieces, but the selection seemed more to reflect the life of youths destined for an art college lifestyle rather than youth in general. There were a number of significant gaps: music, mobile phone culture and sport, though stabbing and bullying/hazing were represented as well as teenage angst.

Margate beach faces northwest so the possibilities of dramatic sunsets and evening skyscapes remain much as they were in the days when J.M.W. Turner was in residence in Margate. The cafe in the gallery has a huge picture window which faces the sunsets, the cakes and coffee were fine but New Year's Eve 2011 sunset was not particularly special.

The thought I took away was that the green shoots of regeneration are still fragile: Margate is probably still an excellent place for a skinhead and scootering rally and rave at a seaside “party house”. Margate remains at the end of the line despite the injection of contemporary art, and the high-speed trains are most useful to get back to “The Smoke”, meaning London.

As it happens, we returned to Canterbury for a quiet and enjoyable New Year’s Eve party with friends.