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’.