The Shell Lady of Margate

December 17th, 2007 > Posted in: Art Discussion, Old Town, Regeneration

In August I mentioned Thanet Council’s competition to commission an innovative artwork to signpost the way to the Old Town area of Margate. The idea is to brand the Old Town and create a cultural trail through the town, which I suppose will work in conjunction with the work being done to widen and improve pavements leading to the area.

Well, after much consideration, the judging panel finally selected Ann Carrington’s “Victorian Shell Ladies”. She says:

Years ago I purchased a beautiful shell ornament in the shape of an Edwardian lady from a souvenir shop on the sea front. There is something about these sea side ladies that epitomise Margate – they have that ‘Kiss me Quick’ kitsch of this quintessentially English sea side resort, yet they are beautifully crafted with an air of the fine ladies and gentlemen who once inhabited the grand historical buildings that are central to the town.


Ann’s proposal includes a 10 feet tall shell lady sculpted from copper to sit in the the market place area of the old town, as well as twelve more shell ladies made from real giant scallop shells to direct people towards the old town.
To accompany the kitsch overload, she plans to use derelict window fronts to feature signs painted by local sign writers reflecting an array of historic graphics unique to Margate – from classic Amusement Arcade frontages to the signage of the Sea Bathing Hospital.


I love the hand painted signs, and totally agree that Margate should make more of it’s heritage of seaside art, but I can’t pretend I actually like her plan for the permanent shell lady in the old town.
This said, Ann Carrington is an interesting marker for where art has reached in the town. Ann is a well regarded and successful artist working from a studio just off Margate high street… and now her work is being used to help improve the town – it’s a scenario you wouldn’t have envisaged five years ago, but it illustrates the well worn history of artists working where the rents are cheap and then watching their work help improve the community as a result.

You can download Ann Carrington’s proposal for the shell ladies, alongside some of her existing portfolio, by visiting her website, and clicking on ‘Current Projects’.

66 Responses to “ The Shell Lady of Margate ”

  1. artistically agitated of margate Says:

    Is this the image we are going to use to promote the new – regenerated – future thinking – culturally significant Margate?

    This sculpture is the epitome of mindless popularism in public art, and represents a former flavour that the town and its representatives i thought were trying to get away from.

    Although there is no denying that Margate has a kitsch side – this sculpture and subsequent proposals go beyond the de rigueur of contemporary art kitsch, it is no Jeff Koons puppy, and will not stand in place of it or in competition to it. This will not be our Angel of the North, or even the ‘shell lady ov tha sowff’. For regrettably i feel that, regardless of Carringtons standing, this sculpture will be the cause of civic and cultural embarrassment and in turn will be a focus for much mocking in the media both locally and nationally.

    If Margate is to put itself on the map as a culturally significant town, where contemporary Art goes hand in hand with contemporary thought – then is this the sculpture to promote that? We are post ‘Post Modernism’ and now find ourselves in the age of ‘Post Autonomous Art’, and here we have to promote our time of fluid artistic discovery a dead automaton – whose predecessors lustre lacked on purchase and whose aesthetics should have stayed dust covered at the back of Carringtons box of inspirational tat.

    ‘Ironic statement!’ i hear the cry, and while i enjoy irony and art that uses humor in its discussion, this is like a bad joke re-occurring, stuck like an old record, a worn out comedian dying on his feet whose time on the circuit should have ended years ago.

    Thank you team of knowing panel, presumably councilors and officiandos of artistic merit, visual artists and sentimentalists. We can now pore our civic pride into the metal muscles, and cast clam shells of an age now past and that we hoped was dead.

    What a sign for a consensus of Lack of vision – a cackle of crass crinoline ladies, 55K tucked into periwinkled purses while they take lead – reversing us into the future.

  2. Matt B Says:

    Actually, heathen that I am, I thought it was rather cool. My main point is that it is SOMETHING where as a current there is NOTHING and even cliche as heck is better than the current lack. It’s all a bit late now – if we want to commision something classy than (a) we need to find a classy artist and (b) get then to do a design that we can get people excited about.

    Failing that the council for all their faults were elected (don’t get me started) and are therefore, technically, “in charge” sans massive well organized protests.

    I’ll back any demand that has solid plans for something epic and amazing but I’m just to tired of the nothingness to object when something is offered. Whatever that something might be.

    But then I’m a heathen with no taste who did not even know that Margate had a Museum.

  3. Walnuts Says:

    Interesting debate, I recently moved to Margate and it is obvious the town is in desperate need of cultural and economic re-development. Having seen the ‘Shell Lady’, I tend to agree with some of the comments made above, if Margate is to be re-developed, careful thought and planning needs to be given to the town’s cultural re-development. The chosen piece seems like a series of ‘tired’ old seaside cliches (ornamental signage and shells) is this the image that the town should promote?
    Am I the only resident of Margate who finds the recent proliferation of technology exciting, surely this could have been used in some way to make this opportunity more interactive.
    It’s time for Margate to move away from Beatrix Potter figures, carved york stone and shells to take pride in its future and not its past. Nostalgia tourism has its roots embedded in Thatcherism and there is no place for this in a multi-cultural seaside town blighted by her economic policy.
    In future lets find a more innovative solution.

  4. Margate Architecture Says:

    I think it’s ghastly. The project in my view should signpost the old town, not some new, and in my view, tacky statue. The posters pointing the way to the “shell lady” really are ironic, given the fact that the wonderful real attraction of the Shell Grotto is woefully under-signposted throughout Margate. I really am lost for words. With all due respect to the artist, I think it’s a terrible solution to signposting the old town. Who’s going to come and see the thing? The old town is a place with history and heritage. We don’t need a fake tourist attraction like this. Margate has richness to offer, I thought this is what the project was supposed to promote.

  5. Jon Says:

    I’m relieved that others share a dislike for the winning project (well, in my case, specifically the shell lady) – infact I probably neglected to express it strongly enough in my main post. You’ve all done it far more eloquently than I managed to.

    Unfortunately, according to the council, “The work…has commenced already and is expected to be complete and on display by the end of March 2008.” I’m not sure what we can do about this one. Suggestions?

  6. Matt B Says:

    In “show business” sometimes ensemble productions might take a certain direction even if a small core (a minority report) disagree. The dissenters would plan out and develop their own ideas so that should the audience boo (or worse pay no attention at all) the developed ideas can readily be taken on and used.

    My suggestion would be to get to work on some alternatives.

  7. Margate Architecture Says:

    I think the point that has been raised is that alternate ideas *were* produced and that the judging panel of this particular competition, who don’t seem to have artistic credentials on which to base their decision, didn’t choose them. The chosen solution doesn’t seem to be particularly on brief and is instead a permanent public art piece, a statue, rather than signposting the old town. And lastly that people seem to dislike the proposed statue. So, no, I don’t think it unreasonable to have an opinion before it’s erected. I can’t see the real thing being any improvement. Sorry if that offends, but that’s art for you.

  8. artistically agitated of margate Says:

    Question for you Jon….where are you getting this information from? i cant find the press release, so can you post the details, so we can see what the council have actually stated.

    The proposed piece would take months of work to make. As it is to be cast an original full size version (probably in Wax)has to be made in pieces, then kiln fired, then poured with bronze or what ever material is being chosen, then chased and cleaned, and then welded together. A long laborious process which could take months to complete. I doubt it very much that the first wax stage is any where near to completion as this is a huge job in itself.

    Will they have to apply for planning permission – especially in the old town – which is a conservation area, surely the local businesses would shriek at the thought of having to look at this all day….and really is it going to improve the public realm – i doubt it with its aesthetics, but im sure the pigeons will be glad of a new perch and nesting site, they care not about ugliness and beauty.

    Public art these days is usually less about statues and more about interaction and intervention, with people, the space, and the architecture. If it is statues that we want (which i dont) then Turner or Emin or a figure of some charm or value or of historical import would be more appropriate.

    Lets think about this – the idea is that the shell lady is supposed to sign post and draw people into the old town. It is its own charm and beauty that is to tempt and woo the crowds. The very act of its being in the space will enhance, improve and compliment its locale.

    We have two other pieces of statuesque works in Margate one is the swimmer in the small precinct and the other is the two entwined figures by iceland – neither of these sculptures draw me to shop and hang around in either of these two venues, & i doubt they do for anyone else. Although i do not necessarily love these two works i feel that at least the swimmer is more appropriate for Margate but it has been installed in the wrong place. (i do sometimes hear the theme from jaws as well when i walk past it)

    Contracts may have been written and signed – but that does not mean that the public shouldn’t have a say about the appropriateness of the work, its longevity of stay and its standing as the new symbol for a new Margate.

    Agitated – i continue to be…….

  9. Jon Says:

    The news was emailed to me on Monday 17th from the TDC press office – I’ve noticed news often appear on the council website several days after I first receive it. Here’s the release in it’s entirety:

    The winner of a national competition to ‘Signpost’ the Old Town of Margate has been selected.

    Ann Carrington’s Victorian Shell Ladies were chosen to ‘brand’ the Old Town and create a cultural trail through the area, drawing visitors and local people alike to key features in the area and promote attractions, such as the Tudor House.

    The signage project, being coordinated by the Margate Renewal Partnership, attracted more than 100 enquiries from artists as far afield as Scotland and France.

    The final decision on the winning submission was taken by a panel, based on presentations and interviews with the shortlisted artists, as well as public responses to the designs, which were on display at the temporary library in Margate for a week in November.

    Derek Harding, Programme Director of the Margate Renewal Partnership, said: “We are delighted that an artist of Ann Carrington’s calibre has been chosen to develop an innovative and artistic way of enticing people to visit the Old Town. The lightheartedness of her approach has enormous appeal. Residents may be surprised in the near future to find one or more of the Ladies attending performances at the Theatre Royal or taking a stroll together along the seafront!”

    Ann said: “I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to make this exciting art work for Margate Old Town. Imagine The Shell Ladies promenading on the Parade or gazing longingly out to sea on the Harbour Arm! I believe that The Shell Ladies capture the spirit of Margate – they look like they might have just appeared in all their finery from one of the many beautiful, historical buildings in Margate, yet they also remind me of the Shell Grotto and Margate’s sea side attractions.”

    The work, which is funded by East Kent Partnership, the European Regional Development Fund and Thanet District Council, has commenced already and is expected to be complete and on display by the end of March 2008.

  10. HM007 Says:

    Many many years ago, I too had one of these shell ornaments, I was about 5 at the time and I loved it, as a nice little souvenir of a holiday on the coast. However that was XX years ago, I no longer have the mental age of 5 (despite what others may say about me), and can’t quite believe that this project has been selected as the best option for Margate. I would have loved to have seen something more stimulating to be chosen for this project, which was entirely possible from the other shortlisted candidates’ work.

    Does it take a brain surgeon to understand that you can have a nod to the past in a modern context, without having to rehash tired images and trot out predictable rubbish – who do they think is the target audience exactly – 5 year olds or people who have just awoken from a 40 year coma?

    What a shame, another opportunity to move Margate forward, and yet again it seems to have missed the point….

  11. Matt B Says:

    In which case might it be reasonable to FOI request a list of the failed submittals and judges. This information could be used to get some expert opinion and or a “no way” campaign. If the judges dission is “unreasonable” in public opinion it would be a vote killer to push ahead.

  12. Matt B Says:

    There is some slim grounds for objecting that the “public consultation” was unfair because it was not public knowledge a week being too short a time for word to get out. I might be a heathen of arts but a heathen that likes to see things done somewhat fairly. To back this up a FOI request on the number of respondents and none personally identifiable data. A good statistician could highlight any (high probability) evidence that the sample was unrepresentative which would give a formal objection some backbone.

    I would take the objection to your local councilor CC someone in the other party (plus say an independent or “minority” party).

    Also if the shop and business owners in the area object (especially if a case can be made for loss of earnings, say) then some serious letter writing could see further consultation.

    Don’t let the council spin you any bizzar lines about the DPA which only covers personally identifiable information.

  13. Jon Says:

    I’ve dug up an earlier press release which says the shortlisted proposals were:

    A Victorian Shell Lady (Ann Carrington), a modern take on the ‘What the Butler Saw’ machine, called a ‘Mutoscope’ (Steve McPherson), coloured glass inlay panels in pavements (Brett Manley), Perspex skyline image signposts (Paivi Seppala) and a ‘Culture Walk’ (Craft:Pegg)

    Apparently the winner was decided by a panel made up of representatives from the local community, the creative sector, Thanet District Council and Kent County Council. It’s pretty much all the information that was made available.

  14. Another agitated artist Says:

    Reading the comments already submitted, there appears to be general dismay at the lack of public involvement in making decisions in this problemtic arena of ‘public art’. Yes, there will always be complaints about the money aspect but more importantly the public – who are they – need consulting and involving. The displays were on for a brief period and the short-listed artists should have presented their ideas to a public audience!

    Displaying proposals requries careful consideration and as we are supposedly in an age of new technology, some works may have required additional facilities.

    Whether we are in the age of post Post-modernism or Post Autonomous art or not, we are certainly in the age of interactive engagement and audience participation where hopefully an intelligent response is required or one of curiosity. We are not that far from the Tate Modern logistically although this proposed ‘sculpture’ is conceptually eons away.

    This is in danger of becoming another Tilted Arc and will not promote the new image of Margate – kitsche it is not- poor taste it is. Interactive engagement with audience – children making shell people or children and adults making films with mobile phones? Ask them. Really make this an informed decision through liaising with both professionals working with public art, artists, and of course the public who are not ‘disinterested viewers’ as this selection suggests.

  15. Margate Architecture Says:

    sounds like all the other projects were signposting the old town, whereas this signposts the artist’s work i.e. her statue. And as for shell ladies turning up at the seafront and around town, I shudder to think.

  16. Matt B Says:

    The question, then, it what is the next action to take?

  17. LJN Says:

    What a horrible ornament!

    It’s remionds me of an unwanted present a child might have given to a granny for Christmas in the 70′s. Maybe we could have a public consultation and sell this horrible ornament on Ebay. or donate it to a charity shop to get it out of the way. After a lot of careful restoration, Margate’s town centre is tstrting to look good. what a pitty to lower the tone by placing a piece of embarrasingly bad art in it. Maybe the money would have been better spent highlighting the really good things Margate offers, such as the Shell Grotto or the Museum.

    If it actually gets installed, it might have the effect of inspiring a constant stream of “spontanious art interventions”: re- modelling, a bit of colour, poetic words…

  18. LJN Says:

    I forgot to say that this is sooooo *emabarassing* for the town that is supposed to attract the arts.

  19. agitated Says:

    After reading on the enlightening Margate Architecture blog…..

    “Another worrying concern is that this project could also be encouraging people to collect shells off the beaches. I can see the tourist office gift shop filling up now with hideous shell dolls to go along with all the other gifts that don’t have relevance to Margate – light house, mermaids and fisherman’s cottages anyone? I thought that the collection of shells on the beach was actively discouraged these days.”

    i did a bit of thinking and searching and came up with this link on the Marine conservation society website:

    Surely this statue actively encourages this type of trade, which is completely environmentally unsound, so again is this the image to promote Margate…???? is it saying that the people of Margate and its visitors should plunder one of its best assets (the beach,) for their own profit? Like the decision to use this gigantic novelty image, forward thinking has been by-passed and simple symbolism and visual communication ignored. Would those in charge and represented by the judging panel be able to answer questions regarding the significance of this symbol of a trade that is both ecological unsound, environmentally frowned upon, and usually has an ecological footprint larger than the crinolined tippy toe of the winning wonder. Does this enlarged curio stand as a beacon of positivity that the participating organizations can use to gauge their own environmental concerns, issues and policies. Maybe someone should bring it up with them?

  20. John Says:

    People will most likely travel to see Ann Carrington’s work, and in that manner it will bring money to the area from visitors. Personally I do not like the work either, but if its good for the area, its good enough for me. Hopefully this will be the first of many art projects involving Margate.

  21. agitated Says:

    Im sorry John – but do you really think people are going to come to Margate just to see Carringtons statue, I doubt it very much.

    She is no Anthony Gormely or Tracey Emin; and if they had a piece of public art in Margate, now that might draw some people, but still not the numbers that would make a significant impact economically to the area.

    Yes i do agree that art projects are good for the town and the more there are the better, but this is being used as a flagship of creativity within the old town, it is going to brand the old town, which already is sharper in its finery than this enlarge novelty item could ever be.

    We must ask questions regarding the expertise of those who make such decisions about what inhabits our public places.
    What advice was the decisions based on and what artists consulted?

  22. John Says:

    I would imagine people will come to margate to see more than just one thing eventually.

    vandalism of the piece worries me.

    Didn’t tracey emin put in plans for a public artwork that was rejected a few years ago?

  23. Elizabeth Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with John. Anything which puts Margate on the map has got to be good. I have only lived in Thanet for a short while and I can honestly say I have never lived amongst a more small-minded, short-sighted, negative bunch of people in all my life. Thank goodness the council are doing something positive. It should be embraced.

    Whether you like the chosen design or not (I’m open-minded as I think the proof will be in the pudding), it was arrived at by a bunch of people who were (a) qualified for the task and (b) had the best of intentions in mind.

    Regarding the comments about encouraging people to collect shells – I understand and am also a bit concerned, but the main component of the shell ladies is scallop shells which are a waste product of fishing and can be obtained by the bucket-full.

    Finally, let’s not forget that the signage project is only an element of the renewal of Margate. It’s existence alone signifies investment and a positive future for the town. Anyone remember what Old Town looked like 5 years ago?

  24. arther vanderlay Says:

    was this in bottom moom?

  25. peter tobin Says:

    if i hear ‘kiss me quick’ and ‘kitsche’ in the same sentence, it makes me so mad that i could…crush a grape!

    Honestly what a pile of pedestrian, sub a-level, generic, derivitive, vomit inducing, eye bleed causing, hair brained, dunce scheme, monkey driving school, fish riding a unicorn, dolphin feeding me endorphins, dogs mess sandwich!

    Was she paid? well was she?

    my eyes have just been sick!

  26. Margate Architecture Says:

    Elizabeth, not sure where you qualify this statement from:

    “Whether you like the chosen design or not (I’m open-minded as I think the proof will be in the pudding), it was arrived at by a bunch of people who were (a) qualified for the task and (b) had the best of intentions in mind.”

    One of the main problems with this scheme seems to have been the lack of qualification of the judges on the panel.

  27. agitated Says:

    Please do check out Carringtons website as the pdf proposal file has now disappeared, and the statment for the work she is undertaking has changed to…..

    “New artworks commissioned for Margate Old Town. There will be a bronze shell lady sited in Margate Old Town at the end of the harbour arm, looking out to sea, summer 2008.”

    if this is the case then this is neither on schedule as i predicted, and has no resemblance to the original ‘signs’ brief.

    How does this now fulfill the orientating Margate brief – as it is just a statue at the end of the harbour arm, not even looking toward the town but out to the horizon and sea – where it should be dropped into.

    shell lady? sham lady!

  28. Jon Says:

    Yes, a very interesting development there.
    Fortunately I saved a copy of the Shell Ladies PDF file – it wouldn’t be fair of me to upload it, but if anyone wants a copy in future, just email me.

  29. Elizabeth Says:

    Dear agitated – your comments come from lack of information. The main shell lady at the end of the harbour arm will be part of a trail through the town consisting of signage and a series of smaller shell ladies which move between locations, to encourage people to explore. I suggest you take up the offer of the pdf before you go and put your foot in it again. Why not stop being agitated and be positive for a change? Are you doing anything positive to regenerate Margate or do you just moan?!

  30. agitated Says:

    Dear Elizabeth – your comments come from an obvious insight into the works and intentions of carrington, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you were not inextricably linked to the artist, or even the artist herself – Anne Elizabeth Carrington?

    And what are you doing that is positive to Margate which you are not actually being paid to do????

    Your first comment on this site made me question your motives to react, and it did seem that you had insider information about this project.

    Your second comment establishes that you do, as the original proposal was for the sculpture to be in the old town and this has probably changed due to planning regulations and conservation areas requiring works to complement the locale and not reduce it to some fantasy fancy and whim.

    As for my own participatory acts – how do you know i am not in league with, but are opposed to the decisions of Margate renewal partnership, or East Kent Partnership, or the European Regional Development Fund, or Thanet District Council, or the Turner contemporary all of which carrington worked for before she got the commission, and who were funding or involved with, or where decision makers for the whole project. (information of which is easily accessible if you google search carrington and those organisations together)

    regarding positivism: i as a local, lived, educated and worked here most of my life, have only the best intentions for Margate at heart. I want positive and forward thinking
    Art, not sentimental misplaced nostalgia for a time that carrington never witnessed. A time looked upon by those migrating to this area on the back of the Turner Contemporary as cool and kitch. Quite frankly it f****ing wasn’t, for locals living here, and still isn’t.

    I want the Turner Contemporay to succeed and have been a vocal advocate for it since its first suggestion. But the shell lady and its counterparts speak nothing of the promise and potential of this creative area, and of the hope for a future to come. More its speaks of one that has faded with moth ridden Kiss me quick hats, and violent alcohol fueled Beanos, and good riddance and goodbye to them.

    ‘Moan’ i do not, as moaning are complaints and criticisms not wanted or valued by those perpetrating or in allegiance to the offense. Come on Elizabeth, surely you can make a better artistically informed argument than you have. (in fact you have not had or used an informed argument to date) You obviously have a voice – what do you think about the aesthetics or conceptual aspects of this work – go on give it a go tell me how this work complies with the brief… i await your reply.

  31. Elizabeth Says:

    Dear agitated

    Thank you for your reply. Firstly, I am not the artist! I have no allegiance to her either. Secondly, I am not being paid by anyone. I am someone who has put my entire wealth into buying and renovating old buildings in Thanet, in the belief that it will, one day, be a great place.

    I know that the original spec for the signage project was focussed on the Old Town but apparently they couldn’t find a suitable site around the Market Place, and thought that the end of the harbour arm would be appropriate. To my mind though, the harbour is most definitely part of the Old Town (wasn’t it built in the early 1800s?). In fact, it personifies Margate and is in almost every picture of the place! So, actually I think it is very appropriate that the sculpture goes there, especially given all the renovations that are going on to the old units there at the moment.

    Regarding you, of course I know very little, except for your blogging comments. It is refreshing that you see Margate’s future as different from its past. However, I do detect some xenophobia. Just because someone isn’t Thanet born and bred does not mean they do not have something to contribute to it. I look around me and see the mess that is largely down to the lack of pride and engagement over the last 20 years by the local people, and can’t help concluding that some outside influence has got to help.

    I think I said before that I am neutral on the choice of winner. I accept that that decision was arrived at by due process. I can see your point about harping back to something which wasn’t great anyway, but it is something which I think a lot of people will connect to. It may imply the old kiss-me-quick thing but for goodness’ sake it’s made of metal and is massive! It moves it on and brings it into today.

  32. Cosmo Kramer Says:

    What is Margate? It’s not Venice, it’s not New York, it’s not London. It’s a small seaside town that has been in terminal decline since the 1970s. It has all the attributes of post-industrial decay: high unemployment, low educational achievement and a lack of investment. What annoys people like myself who are from here with ‘creative types’ from the capital who move here is how they take it upon themselves to do us and our area good. As if we are the poor, helpless provincial proles who know no better. It is patronising in the extreme. Art and culture, however worthy, is not going to lead to the real regeneration of this area for the vast majority of people here. It may be rather pleasant for Guardian-reading types like myself to have some nice cafes and galleries to go to, but if you are unemployed and uneducated quite frankly it means bugger all. What this area needs is large-scale investment and training to develop industry and jobs. Old town trails, sculptors, internationally-renowned art galleries: all very nice, but they are just candyfloss.

  33. LJN Says:

    Elizabeth Says: “proof will be in the pudding” But the Shell Lady is more like th dogs dinner

  34. LJN Says:

    I’m not sure if I get Kosmo Kramer’s point. Was Margate ever an industrial town? Or was a seaside resort, living on tourism – lots of money from ‘down from Londoners’.

    Since Margate’s beaches can no longer compete with Andalusia as a mass bathing resort or with Disneyland for rides for the kids, maybe it could be revived as an old English seaside resort where artists can find cheep accomodation and studio spacec and Guardian readers could come and spend money in nice cafes and buy grand Georgian/Victorian houses with the Turner Contemporary as a refference point for a new economy.

    Maybe the art seaside town would create a thriving new economy and a place where people want to live.

    It is good news that the shell lady won’t spoil the old town centre, but is getting pushed out to the harbor. A step in the right direction. If it could just get pushed to the end of the Harbor arm… and a little further… it might make a big splash!

  35. Elizabeth Says:

    Strange that Cosmo Kramer – my experience of most Thanet locals is that they are poor, helpless, provincial proles! A cultural invasion might do them a bit of good to see how the civilized half live. As it happens, there are plenty of documented examples of art-led regeneration. Just Google it. It isn’t candyfloss. To quote from a site I just came across, ‘The true regeneration is the regeneration of local people’s hearts and minds’. How true.

  36. Cosmo Kramer Says:

    LJM: I use the term ‘industry’ in the broader sense of economic activity that provides a stable economy. You’re right that Margate will never be again a thriving tourist resort attracting working-class Londoners because of cheaper, and better, alternatives abroad. The area does need regeneration, but to think that art will provide the only solution is misguided in the extreme. Yes, there are many examples of a certain type of regeneration associated with the arts, and despite your impression I’m not against the Turner Comtemporary, artists coming here and so forth. If the Turner attracts middle-class DFLs who come and spend their cash that’s fine as well – I’ve no problem whatsoever with this. However, I’m afraid for the majority here this will have little effect apart from say a smattering of low-paid service-sector work. The fact that middle-class DFLs may come and buy old houses actually increases house prices depriving those on lower-income who live here to get on the property ladder.

    Elizabeth: your patronising attitude is a perfect example of what irritates the ‘locals’. The fact that you deem it upon yourself that you have the right to force a certain type of cultural-capital to the less fortunate for their improvement reminds me of 19th century Anglo-colonialism whereby the colonised were forced to be ‘civilised’ with Christianity, clothing and table manners.

  37. xwoof Says:

    Shove it up your art.

  38. Elizabeth Says:

    I do believe that what is happening in Margate is progress. Left to its own devices Margate was rotting away. If it takes irritation to wake up the locals then so be it. Incidentally, what is your alternative vision for the future of the town?

  39. Elizabeth Says:

    Highly constructive xwoof. You are a real ambassador for the area.

  40. xwoof Says:

    Speaking as a thick local I think its great that posh London types are willing to take time out of their busy and important lives to come to a dumb zone like Margate and do culture to us.

    They could just give us money to do our own culture but we’d probably just spend the money on booze and scratch-cards. That’d be just like us – we’re such morons!

    Thanks, London. Thanks for caring.

  41. Ralph Says:

    dear God! get over yourselves! Why can’t people accept the population of Britain has always moved around, few people stay where they were born so there will always be an unflux of people from other areas and this is a GOOD thing, it opens our minds, expands our horizons etc. I moved to the area 8 yers ago, my children are raised here, our family lives, works, socialise here but are we not allowed to contribute culturally because, oo er we are not ‘from round these parts’ I love where I live, want to contribute as an equal part, make our environment a better place to live and bring up my children….why should I give ‘you money to do your own culture’ this is my place of living too……..just because I can not trace back my heritage several millenium to Thanet-ites of old…….I live here, pay my taxes to here, I want to be able to make our town better for my children…….God, anyone would think I was tearing down centuries old buildings!!!

  42. Cosmo Kramer Says:

    What some of you don’t seem to get is that this is not zenophobia or small-town small-mindedness, it is a dislike of a metropolitan attitude of superiority which, as I have already stated, is patronising. I have no problem with people coming here from where ever who want to improve things and help out. That’s great. But as anyone who has been involved in certain projects over the last few years (does Exodus ring a bell?) will know that certain people/groups come here proclaiming much, speaking of community participation, inclusion, transforming people’s lives, and good old regeneration – but who have a deep-seated snobbery and distrust towards ‘locals’.

  43. Ralph Says:

    yes, but is this what you are projecting onto them? In my opinion there are just alot of people that genuinely want to make a difference, do something that might just be ‘fun’ and might, just might, make the lives of those living in kent, even the ones that have moved here rather than being born here more interesting. I have not encountered, nor do I feel any ‘metropolitan attitude of superiority’ to people that have been born here, for gods sake what is wrong with wanting to improve our lives? I am now friends with people that have lived in kent forever, people that have moved down in the last few years and, oh no, people that have moved backwards and forwards from and to kent in thier lives – IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE!!! I don’t think ‘eiow, theres a kentish accent -watch the china’. Surely what you are saying Cosmo is that you want to play God and decide that only people who are ‘locals’ can change things in kent – what defines ‘local’ born here? Lived here for 5, 10, 15, 20 years? Work in kent? pay coucil tax to the area? just drop your attitude and try to open yourself up to people that are TRYING at least.

  44. xwoof Says:

    Damn right, Ralph. Nothing wrong with the metropolitan super-beings who’ve come to rescue us, it’s our fault for projecting all our thick-headed local badness onto them.

    You’re also right to suggest that Cosmo should become a god, a terrible, wrathful local god with the power to liquefy the skulls of any non-local who dare utter any of the blasphemous words ‘culture’, ‘art-led regeneration’, ‘Kirsty’, ‘Phil’ and ‘gallery’.

  45. Cosmo Kramer Says:

    Ralph, I’m not projecting anything. I, and several other people I know, have experienced this first hand. I could give you a long list of examples of what happened with the Exodus project and put you contact with people who experienced the same. I say this one last time because I think you are having trouble getting my point: I AM NOT AGAINST PEOPLE COMING HERE, THAT WOULD BE SILLY AND TANTAMOUNT TO RACISM (INDEED MY PARENTS ARE FROM LONDON AND I’M A THANET RETURNEE), I’M NOT SETTING UP AN US/THEM DISTINCTION – I AM POINTING OUT AN ATTITUDE FROM SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE SET UP PROJECTS AND/OR HAVE MOVED HERE DURING LAST FEW YEARS OF ‘CULTURAL REGENERATION’. AN ATTITUDE THAT PEOPLE WHO ALREADY HAVE THEIR LIVES HERE FIND RATHER ANNOYING. Many people I know who have been involved in the arts and creative professions here for some time feel the same. They are not all from Thanet, they were not all born here, but they dislike this attitude.

  46. Pete Says:

    Just moved to the area because it is such a lovely and up-and-coming place. Never expected such antagonism! Am gobsmacked at the truly local attitude of the locals. They should travel more! What century are they in? Cosmo – get a life! Elizabeth and Ralph – keep up the good work.

  47. Cosmo Kramer Says:

    Peter, I can only assume you lack the intelligence and empathy to understand the viewpoint I represent in my various contributions above. The irony is that you are reproducing the very attitude that I find so distasteful. Any criticisms of what you represent is constructed within an us/them discourse of locals/metropolitan newcomers where if we dare to say anything against ‘you’ we are backward, out of date, provincial, untravelled etc.
    Your assumptions about me and others, who are sympathetic to what I say, reflect your own ugly prejudices. I travel extensively because of my job working with people all the around the world. I am not, however, the clueless, middle-class backpacker patronisingly dipping into exotic primitive cultures rather like the metropolitan moving here because “it’s so up and coming” and while the “natives are a little backwards”, their lives can be improved for the better with “our notion of culture”.

    You will be all glad to know that this will be my last contribution. I really give up with this because you are so narrow-minded, insensitive and ignorant that it is not worth trying to hold a mirror up to you because all you will see is a reflection of your self-serving smug egos. I feel sorry for you because this area has a lot to offer and needs help, and would welcome your help, but you can only help people by working with them and not treating them as inferiors.

  48. simon says Says:

    It seems that the crux of the problem is that “art” is universal, knows no cultural or economic boundaries, and has no rightful owner. However, “Art” belongs to the insular few who’s attitude is evangelical and comes from an unfortunate standpoint of cultural superiority. Banksy is an “Artist” because he has been embraced by the cognicienti. The chav who tags a lampost is not because he has not. My own “Art” is less obvious – and when I hacksaw the shell lady into pieces the cognicienti will call it mindless vandalism.

  49. Ralph Says:

    For Gods sake Cosmo, look at what you are saying! How dare you accuse me or anyone else that moves here of ‘narrow-minded, insensitive and ignorant that it is not worth trying to hold a mirror up to you because all you will see is a reflection of your self-serving smug egos’ you nothing about me or who I am, my values, my needs, what I or for that matter anyone that has moved into the area can bring or has brung. You seem to be advocating only helping when we are ‘asked’ to rather than contributing as an EQUAL member of the society we have chosen to live in……yep you are right this is ‘TANTAMOUNT TO RACISM ‘. I have no desire to ‘HELP’ anyone, but rather want to be part of my area, to work alongside others, as I have said before, work here, [play here, play my taxes here, schol my children here, but alas I seem to lack the ‘I come from Thanet’ badge. Oh and xwoff, most people that have moved away from London or where ever have moved here because they liked the area not because of a desire to be ‘ metropolitan super-beings who’ve come to rescue’ anyone, just wanted a better life, by the sea!!! Nice to see you can hold a rational, sensible conversation, well done (oh sorry was taht my metropolitan superiority coming out) BTW, I was actually born in Kent and my family moved to London……SHOCK HORROR!!!

  50. xwoof Says:

    If you want to be part of your area, Ralph, why don’t you move back there?

    And by the way, is it legal to schol your children?

  51. The Judge Says:

    Ralhp is so cros hee is losing teh abilty to spel.

  52. Ralph Says:

    not angry really, just feel quite strongly! hahahaha! And brilliant suggestion xwoof, brilliant, well done!!! you are a real credit to the human race!

  53. Ralph Says:

    can I just ask what xwoof’s comments actually mean? If I want to be part of my area, why don’t I move back there? where? where do you think I come from? born in Erith, move back there?

  54. George Costanza Says:

    Bet you don’t like jellied eels Ralph.

  55. George Costanza Says:

    If you don’t understand what Xwoof means, you obviously don’t speak Thanet. The ability to speak Thanet should be part of the Thanet Citizenship test for DFLs.

  56. Martin Fnud Says:

    I’m really posh and I agree with all the posh people. Down with oiks!

  57. Bazzer Says:

    I’m really oiky and I agree with all the oiks. Down with toffs!

  58. smooth Says:

    Shouldn’t that be ability to speak Fanet? I don’t remeber any th words being used round here

  59. xwoof Says:

    Move to Ghent.

  60. Matthew Hart-Wilson Says:

    The level of animosity shown here toward educated and compassionate people simply beggars belief, and goes some way to explaining the current low standing of the area.

    The entrenched attitude of a belligerent minority (who arrogate to themselves the position of local spokespersons) is symptomatic of the self defeating mindset that has contributed and continues to contribute to some of Thanet’s problems.

    Art has the power to transcend class, time and place. It can liberate minds and by such freedom greater improvements in social and physical well-being can be brought about.

    It is truly humbling that there are people who are willing to give of their own in order to try and bring about the emotional, intellectual and spiritual emancipation that art can bestow on a community.

    Some of the posters here will, I hope, even if they never realise it, benefit from this and other regenerative projects in this area. Plainly, they are in sore need of it.

  61. peter tobin Says:

    i moved here in the 70′s and made my feelings toward the locals felt in a very ‘real’ sense.

    anyway back to the shell lady, in a nutshell it is ‘bad’ art!

    goodnight and god bless

  62. Margate Architecture Says:

    While you’re all arguing, is the Shell Lady in construction? I was quite interested about the re-siting of the lovely lady to the harbour arm. This means that the harbour arm is getting quite a hefty amount of investment this year. I’m really confused by it’s redefinition as part of the old town. I thought the project was to get people into the old town. The harbour has always been an easy draw for visitors.

    And touching on the argument, as someone who’s only been here for a year, the wink of an eye in Thanet terms, my experience is that I’ve met brilliant homegrown local creatives and artists who sadly get over looked by the establishment, grant givers and organisers of regeneration projects. So as much as I can, I can see how local creatives have had their nose pushed out of joint.

    If Margate is going to live up to the claim of being a creative hub (check out for the claims from the Margate Renewal Partnership) it has to provide spaces and services for local creative industries to flourish. Surely some better use for empty shops can be dreamed up while this regeneration is happening?

  63. agitated Says:


  64. Anon Says:

    At a fun packed Margate Rocks, I was accompanied by a first time visitor to Margate. He stopped dead in his tracks in horror at the site of the skirted ones.

    Has anyone else noticed that all publications from TDC now go overboard to underline the public consultation process in chooseing the project? Did anyone here actually go or hear about the process that was on for a full 4 days at the library midweek?

    The statue is now to be made of cast bronze. How much will that cost out of the 50k I wonder?

    And what happened to the signage that was in the proposal?

    So many questions…

  65. URL Shortener Service Says:

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

  66. Gabriel Says:

    It’s all good Richie old boy, you’re still one of the first pages I land on in blogland and glad you got your rufthgil top of page inclusion in the Thanet Times. It is a shame about the non-inclusion of BIGNEWS in the article though, as well as the generally poor linkage, another example of a gazunder blunder. Maybe now a fellow blogger has joined their ranks they may start to sort things like that out.

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