MARGATE winter 2020 / 2021
Modern-day Seaside Stories
voicing the unheard
The power to heal
in it together
The difference we can make
Artists inspiring conversations about race
Local lives transformed by Margate
Reviving the Oval Bandstand with GRASS Cliftonville
How volunteering helps create change
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Editor Lucy Edematie
Eggy Dave Encounters
Alternative art spaces - we visit Penthouse, a gallery based in a family home
Gifted with graphite - explore drawing with four local artists
The power to heal - how Margate is transforming lives
Save our Shul - pressing action to safeguard the Margate Synagogue
A vision realised - Hartsdown Academy students introduce Westcoast Kent CIC
Musical journeys - things that influence Denai Moore
In it together - charity GRASS Cliftonville reflects on a momentous year
Movable feasts - the food entrepreneurs operating from ‘dark kitchens’
The difference we can make - inspiring stories from charities and volunteers
Voicing the unheard: how Margate artists are talking about race - local responses to a nationwide issue
Sub-editor John Murphy Founder & Publisher Clare Freeman Design Lizzy Tweedale
Welcome to our winter issue
Advertising Jen Brammer Publishing assistant Emilia Fuller Social media manager Kate Walters
From the Editor Lucy Edematie
Section editors Art & Culture Twinkle Troughton Children Emma Dublin Food & Drink Lisa Harris Music Adam Tinnion Jax Titmus Property & Interiors, History Ros Anderson
Contributors Writers Jim Biddulph Bryony Bishop Bess Browning Peter Erlam Alastair Hagger Alexandros Haros Jessica Jordan-Wrench Jackie Martin Dave McKenna Emilia Ong Aisha Payne Dominic Rose Selena Schleh Zac Sweet Francesca Ter-Berg Ivanna Wright Photographers Ethan Cotton Sheradon Dublin Kat Green Oliver Goodrich Kate Harrison Illustrators Michael Goodson Jade Spranklen
cover image Artist Phien O’Phien photographed in the old Primark building by Kat Green
he wounds inflicted by 2020 are deep. And yet, while it may have seemed like the worst of times, this year could neither destroy nor weaken the best of our community. This best is seen in countless groups and individuals striving to make a difference for our town and its inhabitants. Those who organise and attend events to raise vital funds for local causes, the businesses creating opportunities to help others thrive, the people giving freely of their time to organisations supporting society’s most vulnerable and marginalised. In this issue, five locals share
personal experiences of volunteering, reflecting on its impact and rewards for the recipient and the giver. They reference the important work of Porchlight, Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet, Kent Coast Volunteering and Age UK, also highlighting other local charities in search of more volunteers to help them transform lives. Whether through crowdfunding appeals or the 80-plus project submissions to Margate’s Town Deal Board, members of our community have also combined forces to safeguard and revive local landmarks and cultural assets for the town. Having been nominated as preferred buyer of the Oval Bandstand and Lawns, GRASS Cliftonville tell us their plans to revitalise this site. And the recently formed Cliftonville Cultural Space CIC appeals for assistance from us all with an urgent campaign to preserve the Margate Synagogue - here since 1929. Writer Emilia Ong speaks to locals who moved to Margate in varying degrees of ill health, finding that the kindness and acceptance of the town’s residents - coupled with its sea and skies - has the power to heal. Moving to Margate also remade me, offering opportunities including editorship of the Margate Mercury. In this role, it has been a pleasure to meet so many of our readers, and a privilege to be entrusted with your stories.
Winter 2020 / 2021 (December to February)
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There in black and white - a photographic record of 2020
Grand union - a townhouse transformed
A walk around Herne Bay - Margate resident Bryony Bishop returns to her hometown
The long walk home - on foot from London to Margate
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Maggie’s provides doggy delights
Compiled & written by Aisha Payne
Maggie’s of Margate was created by Georgina Powell and Beth Pritchard to meet all your pooch’s needs in an ethical way. Named after Maggie May, the couple’s beloved cockapoo, the business specialises in natural, handmade dog biscuits and plastic-free accessories. The couple also offer advice to pet-owners via their blog. maggiesofmargate.com @maggiesofmargate
Marking the important milestones of businesses established and new
We Are Here coffee delivers to doorsteps
The Cliff serves up Indian treats
On the menu at The Cliff Margate are a variety of South Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, and their speciality - Indian dosas. Catering to plant-based and meat-eaters alike, the restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 10.30pm. Customers can browse the menu, place orders and pay online, opting for collection or delivery. 112 Northdown Road thecliffmargate.com
Hera revitalises Lido Stores Hera Margate brings you carefully curated gifts, art and eco-friendly products primarily by Kent-based makers and artisans. Starting as a small unit in the Old Kent Market, the team have recently renovated the old Lido Stores and look forward to showing a diverse and regularly changing range of work. Submissions of artwork are welcome. @hera_margate
Our Kitchen inspires healthy, affordable fare Led by Sharon Goodyer, Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet has opened premises on Margate High Street, creating a community space where residents can purchase locally sourced, healthy and affordable produce. The food club also offers seasonal food kit bags with recipes, in the hope of aiding and inspiring people to make tasty and wholesome meals. 51 High Street, Margate ourkitchenontheisleofthanet.org.uk
We Are Here, a coffee delivery and subscription service, supplies some of Margate’s coffee hot-spots. Now you can have their coffee delivered to your own front door. Merchandise, including coffee scales and grinders, is also available. The company will be donating 10p from each bag sold to either the Gendered Intelligence or Missing People charity. weareherecoffee.co
Margate 360 Laundromat offers all-round support Margate 360 Laundromat describes itself as a “a selfservice laundry facility dedicated to supporting the local community of Margate”. Open seven days a week from 7am to 10pm, the facility is also looking to partner with local charities to offer clean clothes and sleeping bags for the homeless and clean school uniforms for children. 80-82 Harold Road, Cliftonville margate360.co.uk
Lovelys Gallery Celebrating its 130th anniversary in 2021, this family run business opened its doors in 1891
years 1927 Founded in 2005, this Cliftonville-based theatre company has performed to over a million people across six continents
Charlotte Ferrall-Peevey has taught yoga and pilates for over 15 years. Welcoming students of all abilities, Red Hot Pilates offers classes including classical pilates, hot pilates, pre and postnatal pilates, and ballet barre courses. Classes, which will continue online through lockdown, can be booked via her website. 107 Northdown Road redhotpilatesmargate.co.uk
Salon 48 treats local tresses and more
Kindred House welcomes guests
Silver Slipper steps into Margate
Founded by designer Natasha Lawless, Kindred House hosts seasonal workshops, events and retreat weekends throughout the year. Events have an emphasis on celebrating the crafts and promoting holistic health, while getting creative and learning new skills. During events, the guest house is reserved for attendees, who receive a 15% discount on their stay. @kindred.house | kindred-house.com
Previously based in Westgate, Silver Slipper has moved to Margate, replacing the former Digi Diner. The studio is the third business venture of Thanet-based Charlotte Silver, who will be teaching at the school. Silvers comprises three dance studios, and will also operate as a café, bar and event space, available to hire for private and public events. 59 High Street, Margate facebook.com/silversmargate
Red Hot Pilates comes to Cliftonville
Musician and business entrepreneur Lisa Maffia and her partner Matt Lucas have opened Salon 48. Treatments including hair, nails, tanning, lashes and teeth-whitening are offered in a spa-like environment. They also run yoga and meditation sessions and occasional sushi making classes. Garden events are planned for the warmer months. 48 Canterbury Road, Margate | @salon48_
The Shell Grotto Intriguing and delighting visitors since it was ‘discovered’ in 1835
The Greedy Cow Opened in January 2011
Sophie’s Salon Opened in January 2016 when owner Sophie Brinkman was just 15 years old
Buoy and Oyster Established in November 2015
winter Hotlist Compiled & written by Alexandros Haros
DEC Wreath workshop Be the envy of your street by learning how to make your own unique and versatile wreath. All materials, tools and decorative finishes will be provided, as well as snacks and drinks. This is one of many workshops, so keep an eye out for other ways to get creative. See website for prices and dates.
South East Creatives and Resort Studio have commissioned the Skip Gallery to come to Margate. The first exhibition will feature work by Hayden Kays, a Margate-based artist at Resort Studios.
Makers Xmas market
21 November 24 December
A massive part of the festive season is music, food and drink - all will be on offer at the Margate School Xmas market. Browsing 22 stalls featuring art, vintage, interiors and fashion, you could find the perfect gift for loved ones or yourself.
To be confirmed
5 - 6 December
Margate School themargateschool.com
Touch by Stephanie Fuller
Ongoing Mahal Kita Flowers mahalkitaflowers.com
The Virtual Online Museum of Art
SoftlySoftly This free musical event used to take place at Little Swift. It will hopefully return there soon, but for now you can enjoy the musical talents of some amazing artists from your own home by Zoom. Donations are welcome and dates are shown online. Every two weeks from 6 December, 3 - 5pm Online facebook.com/ SoftlySoftlyMusic
This is the world’s first museum made entirely for a digital experience. Curated by Margate local Lee Cavaliere, exhibitions and installations are all free to attend. To experience this one-of-a-kind museum just visit their website. Ongoing Online voma.space
Candle making workshop
Margate Bookie: Christmas literary salon Kent artist Stephanie Fuller will release a series of 34 small to large watercolour paintings on paper inspired by the theme of touch. This exhibiton will be accessible online. Visitors can navigate virtually to experience the art as if they’re walking through a gallery, or sit back and enjoy the virtual tour at the click of a button. 30 November 30 December Online
Get dressed up and grab a drink for Margate Bookie’s Christmas party. With music from an array of performers, this event will get you in the spirit of the season. Tickets priced at £4.99 12 December, 7.30pm Online margatebookie.com
Margate Map merchandise
Late Night shopping
This is your opportunity to get some thoughtful gifts from local traders. Grab a mulled wine and maybe even a mince pie at The Centre. Enjoy the Christmas shopping atmosphere while also supporting our local economy. 17 December, to be confirmed The Centre thecentremargate.com
The Flotsam Sessions Join this diverse group while they perform music from around the world, while also nodding towards the season. Keep an eye out for other events lined up at Rosslyn Court this winter. Live stream or get your tickets online. 19 December, 7pm Rosslyn Court rosslyncourt.com
Using essential oils and natural ingredients, you will be shown the process of handpouring a candle with a bespoke scent. Not only will you come home with a unique candle, but every time you smell it, you’ll remember the enjoyment you had making it. Ongoing Milkwood, Love Lane, Margate milkwood.co
Fancy meeting Father Christmas in an icy grotto, deep beneath the streets of Margate? In preparation for Santa, Margate Caves have been transformed into a festive wonderland. Children will be able to meet our special festive guest and receive a carefully selected gift, as well as visiting the caves. There are free and discounted tickets available for adults. Check their website for details.
Tom Thumb Theatre are continuing their Month of Sundays series, and the shows can all be live-streamed via their YouTube channel. Don’t miss the broadcast featuring Margate’s very own Lunatraktors. This is a rare opportunity to see the everpopular ‘broken folk’ band play in real time - their live shows always sell out. Online YouTube Channel: Tom Thumb Theatre Margate
JAN The Margate Map takes over TwoDuke gallery windows with map and Margatethemed merchandise. Perfect as affordable Christmas presents and stocking fillers, the collection includes tote bags, tea towels, limited edition art prints and framed art-maps. Check out their website for more information.
Unlocked is a public exhibition of lockdown-inspired creative work made by people from Thanet and East Kent. Work has been selected from over 100 submissions by established artists and hobbyists, professional and amateur makers, community groups, and people who have only recently discovered their inner creativity.
Like most events at Elsewhere, this one will be original and unique. As well as entertaining, the performance will also tell you a story about hope and building up energy. 4 February, 7pm Elsewhere elsewhere.community
Sixth Form virtual open evening Sixth Form is a time for young adults to focus on subjects they wish to pursue, and the chance to learn in a new environment. Rochester College offer over 40 options for A level. Join them for their open day and see what they can offer you. 19 January, 6 - 8pm Online rochester-college.org
Turner and Lynn Heraud Using lots of instruments and dressing up, this performace promises to brighten up the cold winter nights. Fun is guaranteed. Live stream or get your tickets online. 6 February, 7pm Rosslyn Court rosslyncourt.com
Harpy at Theatre Royal Years ago, Birdie had something important stolen, and she’s clung on to every little thing since then. But now she wants that precious thing back… Follow her fortunes in this witty and insightful drama, written by Fringe First award-winner Philip Meeks and starring Su Pollard. 13 February Theatre Royal margate-live.com/whats-on
Armed with traditional and modern investigative equipment, you will be locked in the building in the dark from 9pm until 2am. This is a very active location and has never been a let down before. Join the investigators, if you dare.
Yoga onlinestrong body and still mind
Leave behind thoughts of winter and lockdown by taking an hour just for yourself. This weekly class will give you the opportunity to focus on your breathing and movement.
Tickets avaliable at eventbrite.co.uk
23 January, 9pm - 2am
Sounds of the ’60s
Learn how to bowl during four FREE sessions offered during January/February 2021. A trainer will be at each session and all will be welcome. Give the club a ring to find out more or pop in any time.
15 December - 5 January
January - February
Thanet Indoors Bowls Club
* Some events may be subject to change if government guidelines are updated
Hosted by BBC Radio 2’s Tony Blackburn, this successful show is coming to Margate’s Winter Gardens. It features songs, stories and memories from that wild and wonderful decade. A fabulous bit of nostalgia and a great night out.
Every weekend from 5 - 20 December
14 - 20 January
Tom Thumb Month of Sundays
20 December, 8 - 9 pm
Santa’s Grotto at Margate Caves
Unlocked: our creative response to lockdown
17 February, 7pm - 8pm balancedbodywellnessuk. com
The Margate Ripper Forget Jack, a new ripper has been released in Margate. It is the job of you and the rest of your group to find him, before he finds you. Book a ticket for your chance to catch the killer. 27 February, 9am - 2pm Secret Margate Location cluedupp.com/products/ the-ripper-margate
Writer Dave McKenna
Illustration Jade Spranklen
A dose of Margate life from a local with an egg-shaped head
o that was Season 2 of Lockdown, by far HBO’s most questionable recommissioning that left the whole country in a state of garboil. The first instalment way back in spring introduced us to some of the show’s mainstays: for instance Furlough, Gardening, Home Improvements, Alcoholism, Banana Bread-Baking and
the urge to find a new partner. All of these returned in abundance for the second coming. However sadly a few fan favourites didn’t come back, such as getting a premature tan, The Tiger King and the patronising Thursday Night Clap. Common sense refused to be widely involved and celebrations and gatherings weren’t part of any winter lockdown. I turned thirty on the eve of Bojo’s Lockdown 2.0 and its rather timely Halloween announcement. Maybe a sign of my age or my general grumpy outlook, but the party didn’t come close to threatening the rule of six. 2020 has seen all of us robbed of legal socialising as doing so nowadays is difficult and different. The last time I socialised, prior to the rule of six, I woke up with Covid-like symptoms the very next day. Alarmed by my sore throat, I headed for the cupboards - no meds but there was honey. A couple of serious spoonfuls of honey, that will sort me out, I thought. The results were disastrous. No wonder he was called Winnie the Pooh. With the runs as well as suspected Covid now in full throttle, a test was booked. Arriving at Manston Airport and a bizarre barracks of tents filled with bored-looking masked men, myself and Yaris Hilton were pointed through the post-apocalyptic drive-through. I was asked many times, “Can you point to who the test is for?” I was alone in the Yaris so when I was asked by a third man in a third tent, I thought, “I’m going to have to utilise this paper cut-out of Elton John’s face I’ve got on the backseat,” for reasons I refuse to comment on. I quipped: “Why, I’m glad you asked fellas. The test is for the bloke in the back. He’s still standing for now, but not the rocket man he once was.” The great reveal of Elton’s face... I blame the masks for the muted response of the Covid testers. They quickly told me to wind down the window and
threw the test in. Honestly the worst drive-through I’ve ever had. I didn’t order a cotton-bud skewer, but that’s all I got. It tasted rubbish, so naturally I tried to shove it up my nose… Wasn’t much better. Had to give it back in the end.
“ I turned thirty on the eve of Bojo’s Lockdown 2.o... Maybe a sign of my age or my general grumpy outlook, but the party didn’t come close to threatening the rule of six” The test came through positive that I was indeed a mess of a man who had far too much honey and an immune system as strong as Trump’s voter fraud claims. “No Covid for me and that’s the way to be,” I thought as I skipped down to Hartsdown Park to play what would be my last game of football as a 29year-old. As it turns out, my last game of football ever. After what imaginary on-lookers dubbed a “stunning double save” I snapped a tendon in my knee, proving that 2020 has truly been agony for both the social and sporting scene here in Margate.
STAY HAPPY - STAY HEALTHY - STAY SAFE SEE YOU ALL AGAIN SOON!
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LOUISE FRANCES SMITH
Handmade Ceramics Made in Margate
ART & CULTURE
Compiled & written by Twinkle Troughton
Margate’s galleries have an enticing variety of exhibitions and events for you this winter
TwoDuke Leise Wilson 1 to 8 December Leise Wilson will be exhibiting her watercolour paintings in the windows of TwoDuke gallery, featuring a series loosely based on coastal views of Thanet and the surrounding areas. Widely exhibited in the UK, Leise has had solo shows at galleries including Margate’s Turner Contemporary. @twoduke Pie Factory Margate Giles and Gadenne 3 to 16 December Award-winning landscape artists Anthony Giles and Paul Gadenne will be showing a range of studio and plein air paintings from around the county of Kent. Gadenne’s detailed structural compositions of buildings and landmarks combine with Giles’s semi-abstract work of sky and shoreline to form a visual compendium of colour and light. piefactorymargate.co.uk Well Projects Energy Systems Book Launch 5 December, online Marking the end of their 2020 exhibition programme, Well Projects is launching a new risograph book entitled Energy Systems that brings together contributions from 18 artists and academics. Through newly commissioned essays, poetry and art works, Energy Systems explores the correlation between a worldwide drive for connectivity and the emergence of severe environmental rifts. wellprojects.xyz
Lovelys Gallery Lovelys Winter Market Until 2 January
▲ Carl Freedman Gallery Breakfast under the Tree Until 31 January
Come feast your eyes on festive delights and be inspired to shop local this Christmas in Lovelys Winter Market, where you can find beautifully crafted handmade gifts by local artisans and makers, as well as original paintings, limited edition prints and unique gifts. lovelysgallery.co.uk
Carl Freedman Gallery presents Breakfast under the Tree, an exhibition curated by actor Russell Tovey. The exhibition brings together a diverse range of depictions of contemporary social scenes, group portraits and shared spaces. Populated by characters both real and imaginary, and wide-ranging in style, they together form a pictorial survey of how we live now. carlfreedman.com
Dekka-Arts Shades and Shapes 15 January Dekka-Arts presents a selection of sculptural and 2D artworks from local and international artists. Works range from explorations of form and abstraction to representation through line and shape, with the interplay between shade and shape finding its place in both styles, forming an intriguing contrast. dekka-arts.com
▲ The Rhodes Gallery I Ain’t Mickey Mouse by Dean Stalham 1 December to 15 January Dean Stalham will be showcasing a collection of his works dating from his release from prison in 2006 to the present day. Featuring paintings and ceramics, Stalham will be showing works previously exhibited with the renowned Koestler Trust, as well as a selection of other more recently created pieces. @TheRhodesGallery Penthouse Scott Myles - Painting for Breakfast Until 9 January Glasgow-based artist Scott Myles presents a solo exhibition of new painted and printed artworks made specifically for Penthouse. Viewing by appointment only, please contact the gallery. @penthousemargate
Pie Factory Margate Nicola Taylor 11 to 17 February Margate-based artist Nicola Taylor will be exhibiting her vibrant paintings at Pie Factory Margate. Taylor’s paintings are inspired by Thanet’s beaches, cliffs, harbours and skies including the mesmerising sunsets at Margate Harbour and the striking stacks at Botany Bay. Taylor uses bold shapes and vivid colours, which aim to brighten your day in these uncertain times. piefactorymargate.co.uk
ART & CULTURE
Alternative art spaces:
Penthouse, a gallery based in a family home
A Frying Pan in a Jiffy Bag Behind a Sideboard by Scott Myles
Writer Jessica Jordan-Wrench Images Courtesy of the gallery
Artist Jessica Jordan-Wrench visits the Cliftonville-based, family-run gallery demonstrating that art can be exhibited and enjoyed in unexpected spaces
n the late 1970s Irish artist and critic Brian O’Doherty coined the phrase “the white cube” as a way to describe the dominant aesthetic of commercial galleries at the time: clean, clinical, controlled. Though the majority of contemporary galleries still fit the archetype, there has been a slow and steady rise of alternatives, particularly in recent years as artists and curators carve new paths through an increasingly challenging cultural landscape. Margate is no exception to this trend. From ex-loos and shop fronts, to houses and flats, we have a growing number of galleries subverting formal conventions, embracing the domestic and championing the DIY. One such space is Penthouse, a gallery based in the family home of artists and curators Andrew Curtis and Vivien Lee. The pair moved to Margate in 2018 to run a printmaking studio for Carl Freedman and Counter Editions, with a view to a better life for their family and more time to realise their personal ambitions. Vivien is a ceramicist who also collaborates with artists to make limited edition bags, while Andrew is half of International Lawns, alongside artist and industrial graphic designer Niall Monro.
Burnout, mixed media on paper/card mounted on aluminium, 14.8 x 21 cm, 2020 by Scott Myles
Since launching last year, they have exhibited major figures of contemporary art, including Bruce McLean, Marcel Dinahet and Elizabeth Magill. We spoke to them ahead of their next exhibition, Painting for Breakfast by Scott Myles. What impact does the domestic setting have on the experience of audiences, artists and you personally? We run as a ‘family’ enterprise. The exhibitions we put on are collectively chosen and we all play a part in running them. Our children assist with invigilating, offering their interpretations of the work and keeping the space ready for visitors. While it is a family home, the exhibition space is essentially a stairwell and a loft with our living space behind closed doors. The artists we invite typically have practices that are adaptable to the space we have, though are more often shown in far more prestigious spaces. We hope that the challenge of exhibiting in the very particular architecture of a family home might also give the artist an opportunity to try out new ideas.
Margate Mercury Does putting on an exhibition in your home have any particular pros or cons? We are aware that first-time visitors are often slightly taken back by the idea of entering a family home to see the exhibition, but we hope that the quality of the work helps overcome this. Though maintaining the required level of tidiness for visitors can be an effort, we do get the amazing benefit of living with an exceptional body of the artists’ work for six weeks, gaining an experience of it that can only be achieved over such time. Does it affect your role as curators? We try not to predetermine what an artist might exhibit. While we invite artists that we know can adapt to the space, we make it clear that maintaining the routine of our daily life should not be a consideration in what to show. So far most of the work has been relatively easy to live with, but we are all ready for the challenges that may come. Has the space informed the work produced in any palpable way? The triangular ends of the loft space determined the format of a film
ART & CULTURE
projection by Marcel Dinahet in our first show. Bruce McLean’s photoworks of objects in unusual domestic spaces, informed by the housekeeping of his mother, were made specifically for Penthouse and were installed with a similarly unconventional attitude. You launched Penthouse a few months before the pandemic hit. How has it affected the project? Our previous exhibition was due to open just before the first lockdown, so we postponed it until it was safe for visitors. During that time the artist Elizabeth Magill began a new series of work, including depictions of NHS workers which formed a crucial part of the exhibition. Our feeling is that due to the restrictions relating to the virus, visitors had a renewed and heightened sense of experience for the work. Do you think the crisis will affect the way people exhibit work long term? In the short term adapting to a digital-virtual means of exhibiting has been crucial to some artists - but this direction was already well underway before Covid-19. New generations of artists and viewers have no issue with this platform, and while Covid has accelerated the extent to which work
is experienced this way, artists have historically adapted well to changes in the cultural landscape. As the second lockdown has been followed by tier 3 restrictions locally, what impact will this have on the next exhibition? We intend to open to the public as soon as the lockdown ends but only if the government guidelines allow a non-family member to enter someone else’s home. If not we will wait to open until that is possible - we built a six week buffer into our 2021 schedule in anticipation of this. It may be that we open our next show, Scott Myles – Painting for Breakfast digitally and then allow visitors once permitted. Finally, I understand you are collaborating with some other arts organisations in Margate. Can you tell us a bit more about that? For each exhibition at Penthouse a limited edition risograph has been co-published with Well Projects just around the corner from us on Northdown Road. Profit will be split between the artist and Well Projects, who run as a CIC with the intention being that we are in a small way contributing to our community.
We have also decided to synchronise our programme with other spaces in Margate so visitors from outside the town have a wider range of exhibitions to experience each time they visit. Penthouse can be found on Instagram, at @penthousemargate, Vivien is @wi.l.d.g.r.a.s.s and Andrew is @countereditions and @internationallawns. Their next exhibition, Scott Myles – Painting for Breakfast, will run from December 2020 to January 2021. More of Margate’s alternative spaces Flat 38, a performance and gallery space in a flat, @flat38gallery Gordon House, a projects, exhibitions and residency space in a Grade II-listed family home, @gordonhousemargate Newgate Gap, a residency and exhibition space in an ex-public toilet, @newgategap Well Projects, an artist-led project space in a disused shop, @well_projects
Image by Ollie Harrop
ART & CULTURE
Gifted with graphite Writer Twinkle Troughton
ome of the oldest drawings on the planet can be found on the walls of caves in France, dating back some 40,000 years, depicting thoughts and ideas that went beyond the lexicon at that time. This ancient art form is also considered to be integral to a child’s development and understanding of the world around them. Through the centuries, drawing has been used to document and story-tell, as well as to provide a vital form of artistic expression. Therefore it is through drawing that we can understand a little more about the world around us. Drawing takes many forms. From the scientifically precise drawings of Leonardo da Vinci to the intensity of Egon Schiele’s expressive lines and the personal, intimate works of Tracey Emin, drawing is a language unique to each artist. But for those who aren’t practising artists, drawing can also be therapeutic and pleasurable. Yet it is an activity that many give up on over time, whether that’s due to discouragement in early years or increasingly busy lives. Here in Margate, we meet four artists whose work is steeped in the medium of drawing, and who each have their own distinctive approach.
Untitled by Mel Cole
Lilias Buchanan grew up outside Edinburgh where she started drawing from a young age. From a creative family, her gran and great aunt both studied art in the 1950s, and Lilias followed in her Aunt Maggie’s footsteps by studying illustration at Central St Martins in London. Going on to study a diploma in drawing at the Royal Drawing School, Lilias herself now teaches drawing here in Margate, at both Resort Studios and Lovelys art shop. When asked why she loves drawing, Lilias says: “I love the simple power of it; all I need is a pencil and some paper to jump into the world inside my head. I find writing difficult, so relish that I
Yukiko and her Cat by Lilas Buchanan
can draw to communicate.” Intrigued by shadows, and studying lights and darks, Lilias says that keeping a sketchbook is a very important process in her practice, helping to build narrative. She loves the versatility of the pencil, and her favourite is a Faber-Castell graphite pencil, telling me: ‘They are very smooth and can create a lot of depth.” Currently exploring symbolism within the fractured reality of her parallel world, Lilias is working on an exhibition for 2021, details of which are to be announced. Image by Jennifer Pattison
Drawing is both ancient and contemporary; it can be a serious focus of artistic exploration or a pleasurable pursuit. Four local artists discuss what drawing means to them, and offer tips for your own endeavours
liliasbuchanan.com Insta: liliasbuchanan
Mel Cole’s delicate drawings depict objects people often overlook. The crumpled form of a knotted black bin bag or the frailty of an old cardboard box are sensitively conveyed, while purposely avoiding sentimentality and cliché. Describing her work, Mel says: “My drawings are abstract but object. In the drawings there is an absence of something that suggests a psychological multiplicity, dealing with the dark side of personality. The drawings contain thoughts unsaid.” Working from a table in her bedroom, Mel tells me that each drawing takes a couple of days to make. She sharpens her pencils with a nail file to make an even finer point with which to describe the detail and intricacy of her subject. Mel studied for an MA in fine art at Camberwell College of Art in 2013, and her work has since taken her to New York as a part of Sluice Art Fair, and the The Wye in Berlin for an artist residency. Her most recent residency was at Margate’s Bon Volks Studios, where she also exhibited. When asked what she loves about drawing, she says: “I like how primal drawing is; I really love the sound of pencil on paper and the feeling of paper. I like drawing’s simplicity; it’s accessible to everyone. You can draw on the back of an envelope to describe thought and feeling.” melcole.studio Insta: @mel___cole
ART & CULTURE
Roy Eastland specialises in silverpoint drawing, which is drawing using the trace of a metal point across a prepared surface. He describes silverpoint as a gentle and subtle medium, which is indelible and has a slight range of tones that oxidise over time, changing the hues of the marks. Roy tells me: “Drawing is an affectionate act of paying attention to the presence of things.” His series Displaced Portraits, which was exhibited as part of Margate Now in 2019, was based on photographs of people taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Roy found the photos in a Margate second hand shop, explaining that “sometimes I think of drawing as making ghosts. There is a beautiful uncertainty to things which drawings are able to show us. I think I’m trying to draw ‘presence’.” Having studied across the UK, from Rochester to Stourbridge, and then to Edinburgh College of Art, he now lives and works back in Thanet, teaching drawing at Kent Adult Education and as an associate lecturer at UCA. His drawings have been selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize and the Jerwood Drawing Prize on four occasions, and have been included in the BP Portrait Award and Discerning Eye Drawing, among others. royeastland.wordpress.com Insta: royeastland
Displaced portrait No. 15 (unknown mother and baby) by Roy Eastland
Lucy Lyons is currently drawing the mummified remains of Maren of Myra for Teknisk Museum in Oslo. This intriguing project is the latest in over twenty years of work focused on anatomy and pathology. Lucy works directly from medical museum collections, conservation rooms, dissection rooms and operating theatres. She has studied drawing extensively. After completing a fine art MA at City & Guilds of London Art School, she went on to do a PhD in drawing at Sheffield Hallam University, and a post-doc at the University of Copenhagen. Lucy says she is “at her happiest spending hours silently lost in observation, drawing fascinating examples of the human condition” and describes drawing as a slow intimate act, explaining: “It slows us down and allows us to engage in ‘slow looking’.’’ Lucy’s work is as likely to be found in scientific settings as any gallery. She has previously exhibited at the Museum of Natural History and the Old Operating Theatre in London, among others. She currently has work in the group exhibition Under the Skin: Anatomy, Art and Identity at the Royal College of Physicians in London (online until 1 January). As well as lecturing in anatomy and drawing at UCL, and in drawing and critical context at The Margate School, Lucy runs artist residencies and exhibitions in her home, Gordon House Margate. lucylyons.org Insta: stuff.in.jars
Want to try your hand at drawing? Our four artists offer you advice on what to do if you want to try drawing again or start as a beginner. And if you already draw, their words are likely to provide inspiration for you too. Mel Cole: “It’s difficult being a beginner at anything, but trust your own way of drawing. Drawing is like handwriting, there are so many different ways of drawing there’s no right or wrong. Drawing is a skill; if you want to draw in a particular way it takes a lot of practice. But the same applies if you’re drawing in your own style; it takes time and practice to find your own language of drawing. Practising something can be boring, so draw something that excites you, freaks you out, or makes you laugh.” Lucy Lyons: “Drawing is looking. ‘Slow looking’ is key to seeing and engaging with the world and drawing is the touch that corresponds to each person’s unique experience of this. I try to show students how incredible the world is by helping them see it in greater detail and touch it through the act of drawing.” Roy Eastland: “Hold a pencil and drag its point across a piece of paper in a line, zigzags, loops and scribbles. Feel your body performing those movements and see the trace of your line taking shape on the page. Now look at an object and choose two points on it and then imagine a line running between them. Pay attention to its angle and make your hand mimic its trajectory across your line of sight. Get used to that movement and, when you’re ready, make that same movement with your pencil-point touching the paper. See, you can draw! Enjoy it!” Lilias Buchanan: “Draw the things in your life that mean something to you. It might be Christmas trees or it might be ketchup bottles; if it’s something close to you then you will draw it with more enjoyment and it’ll make a stronger drawing. Also remember to have fun when you draw. Be loose and bold, don’t get caught up in details. Over time you’ll find your way. Stick at it; even if it’s just ten minutes every couple of days your drawing hand will get stronger after every drawing you do.” Classes you can take: Follow @Resortstudios and @lovelysgallery to find out more about the online drawing classes with Lilias Buchanan Follow @squirrelartsltd to find out about their life drawing classes at Westwood Cross
Region by Lucy Lyons
Go to kentadulteducation.co.uk and search Roy Eastland to sign up to Roy’s drawing classes
(WHATEVER IT IS, WEÊ»VE GOT YOUR BACK)
//CREATIVE //GRAPHIC DESIGN //WEBSITE DESIGN BY THE SEASIDE//MARGATE WWW.BUBBLESTUDIOS.CO.UK
The power to heal Writer Emilia Ong
Illustrator Michael Goodson
Artwork Kate Harrison
When Chris arrived in Margate he was broken, burnt-out and depressed. So was Lucy. Megan felt frazzled, Rachel was injured, and Melanie and Jo were suffering from stress. Years of living under strain had left each of these now-locals in a fragile state. And yet, once they were here, everything - gradually - began to change
hough a place cannot by itself be the saving of someone, ask nearly anyone who has moved to Margate: something will have shifted for them since. Whatever the nature of any given person’s transformation, Margate is the common denominator. It seems there is an undeniable potency here - and it is this, this impalpable thing, which makes Margate special. Beyond the cafés and independent stores, beyond the galleries and restaurants, there is something else, something extra, which is capable of working magic. Take Lucy Davenport. A Margate native who moved away for university, she returned in 2018 following fourteen years in London - a “killer” of a city, as she describes it. The decision to return was not easy. Being in her thirties, moving back home made her feel “like a failure”, but she was left with little choice: her mental health was under increasing strain, and her body had, she says, started screaming at her. “If you had a broken foot,” she asks, “would you keep on running the marathon?” Naturally not, but when that broken foot comes in the form of invisible mental health problems, it is easier to overlook the injury. It took the diagnosis of an auto-immune condition for her to take her struggles seriously. But when she did so? Lucy realised that she was, and in no uncertain terms, “being called home”. Now that Lucy lives with a view of the sea, her life is unrecognisable.
She’s managed to secure full-time work in a field that she loves, helping secondary school kids into employment alongside her own practice as a life coach. When it comes to her auto-immune condition, Lucy is also now living largely symptom-free. The link, one might think, is tenuous – sea air equals employment, really? – but it should not be so summarily dismissed: it is not uncommon for people who live by the sea to mention the curious hold it can claim on the heartstrings, as well as its mysteriously restorative powers. Rachel Taylor, also a Kent native who left in her teens only to return some eight years ago, seconds the curative capacity of the sea. She cites long coastal walks as a key factor in her recovery - from a car crash, no less. The accident nearly killed her. Though she had been teaching in Coventry full time alongside developing her art practice, she’d found that her adopted city was a difficult place to establish herself as an artist. Aching for the sea, increasingly she thought of returning home but, like Lucy, dithered in the absence of any obvious urgency to do so. But then there was the crash. When it happened, Rachel had been on her way back to Coventry after visiting her parents in Westgate. “That was it,” she says, “I knew the universe was telling me not to go back.” Fastforward to 2020, and she regards the accident as “the best thing that ever happened”. While it took her many
months to recover, at the end of that period Rachel found that not only had her physical health improved, the agoraphobia she’d developed in Coventry had healed as well. “It just sort of dissolved,” she says, “as if by magic.” Subsequently her career took off. One of the original co-founders of Resort Studios, she describes the atmosphere in 2012 as electric. “There was a huge surge of creative energy,” she recalls. “It was palpable, you could feel it in the air. The Turner was preparing to open, and everywhere there was a sense of opportunity.” What are we to make of healings such as Lucy’s and Rachel’s? Magic, maybe not - but the combination of time, sea, and the empathy of others can, it seems, work little miracles.
“Margate is more than its coastline, and we oughtn’t to forget other elements which contribute to the town’s special character” Of course no one’s life changes overnight, and none of my respondents were able to set about creating their new lives until they had submitted to a period of convalescence - one helped along by the sea. All placed it as central to their recovery. It is something they cannot explain, but which nonetheless makes historical sense. It is not that long ago that the beach was prescribed as literal medicine, with doctors convinced of the restorative nature of saltwater and fresh air. Both were deemed essential to recovery, and as such lengthy stays were commonly in order. Think of TS Eliot who, sent to Margate to recover from a “nervous disorder”, famously spent his days staring out at the water and doing very little else. He wrote to a friend that he had become “dependent” on the sea, which gave him “some sense of security”.
These days, however, convalescence is not a hot word. It’s not trending, it doesn’t get hashtagged. It is, on the whole, simply absent from societal consciousness. You can be sick, or you can be well. But somewhere in between? People have little patience for that. Unlike people, however, the sea regards us without expectations: waves roll in and out, thoroughly uninterested in the minutiae of our lives. As such, explains Jo Miller, the demand to define ourselves liquefies. “Having to forever know who we are and what we’re doing just so we can feel ‘valid’ in the eyes of other people can prevent opportunities for growth,” Jo says. Remove this requirement and not only can the old be disbanded, but we grant ourselves space for the new. This is the case even if we don’t yet know what form that ‘new’ might take. When Jo left behind the corporate world six years ago, she had little idea that what awaited her was a new incarnation as a sound and somatic therapist. Numerous reasons - stress, bereavement, the dissolution of a relationship - collided, initiating what would come to be years of inner exploration. She now describes her departure as “a falling upwards”. In Margate, Jo realised that “it was on a soul level” that everything had to change. She found that she was able to “really breathe into” who she longed to be and, though the change did not come without fear, in the sea she found the gift of nonjudgmental companionship. It is, she says, an “incredibly liberating force”. Consider the experience of Melanie King, who has found the environment to be similarly, even exceptionally, generative. An artist who moved here two and a half years ago, she describes its influence as “incredibly healing”. Freed from a hectic life of administrative work in London, she notes that it was in this town that she finally found “the space to think and dream”. Her mind cleared, and she felt that she had access to a new clarity. “Each day the landscape changes subtly,” she says, “the sand shifts and the skies change colour.” ►
RISING TIDE MARGATE
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Margate Mercury Melanie actively enjoys Margate’s “invigorating” winds, and is now working on a project which involves photographing the night sky. Like many creatives, the natural world has not only helped her emotionally, but has come to inform her next steps in life. It should be said that doing a ‘geographical’ - leaving a place behind in the hope that your problems will stay there too - by itself never saved anyone, and no one I spoke to managed to change their lives in an instant. Chris, who for twenty years had been, as he describes, “burning the candle at both ends”, acknowledges that his was an unsteady journey. He had been struggling with mental health problems and substance abuse and, though he was determined to change his “chaotic lifestyle”, he says, “my behaviours came with me.” He now expresses regret at the hurt these behaviours caused to friends and family: the memory is a painful one. In the end Chris did change his life, but not without the help of these same family and friends, as well as from local support services. And Margate too played its part. How so? To this, Chris can give no simple answer. Where addiction is involved, it is perhaps especially the case that there is rarely one quick fix. Addiction is nothing if not tenacious: it is in its very nature to be, as Chris says frankly, “frustrating”. Breaking through that wall of repetition and misery can be a tremendous hurdle, but bit by bit, what Chris calls Margate’s “special energy” - natural, creative, and community-based - cracked a chink in his door to recovery. By itself the town did not heal him, but in some curious fashion it set the stage for Chris’s inner work to begin. Asked about specifics, like the others Chris cites the town’s location on the shore as a huge contributing factor to this process. “The light, sounds, smells, and sheer vastness of Margate’s skyline are a feast for the senses,” he says. These days he makes a special effort to explore on his bicycle. Whether by
cycling, swimming, or walking, it appears that physical immersion in nature helps people to stay present: it is both a grounding force and an expansive one. Not only is it creatively inspiring, but it helps, Chris says simply, “to keep things in perspective”. It can be difficult to talk about experiences such as these, but like Chris, Megan Metcalf is open about her own breakdown. Accompanied by experiences of psychosis, it was only after her second that she was able to find the courage to make the move to the coast. Now a successful local illustrator, she remembers feeling “totally frazzled” in London. Initially it was “Margate’s raw creative spirit” that she fell in love with, but she notes that once she was here, beach walks and tidal pool swims played equally significant roles in her recovery. Along with the restorative time she spent in or beside the sea, she too accessed professional help, checking in regularly with a local crisis team, and undergoing counselling. Slowly but surely she felt herself “coming back to life”. She made new friends, found new direction, and managed to strike a balance in her life between, as she says, “peace and excitement”. For Megan, recovery meant a process of grief: both for her father, and for the old self she had left behind. Every interviewee has spoken emphatically of nature’s capacity to transform, but Margate is more than its coastline, and we oughtn’t to forget other elements which contribute to the town’s special character. The sea only takes us so far. To truly mend we must first be willing to launch ourselves into the fog of the unknown, and then we must submit to a shapeless period of convalescence. But then what? Like a cocoon, convalescence can turn us to sludge; it may be necessary, but we cannot leave it at that. What we need then is to come out of it, and once we do so, we need to be gently tended: we need to be kind to ourselves. And to do that, we also need kindness from others. In the end it is these others, the people of Margate, whom we must not overlook. Jo Miller believes that
“The sea only takes us so far. To truly mend we must first be willing to launch ourselves into the fog of the unknown, and then we must submit to a shapeless period of convalescence” it is they who lend, above all else, the town its nebulous resonance. Seeking to explain, she concludes that “like attracts like”. People here understand the journey she is on. “They just get it,” she says, adding that because so many people here are pursuing second starts they tend to live by different criteria of success. For this reason they are generally more open to alternative ways of being. Rachel agrees that people are “more forthcoming” here than in Coventry, by which she means simply friendlier on streets and in shops. While Lucy remembers being worried that her tricky identity as
what she calls a “DFLR” (Down from London Returner) would mean that she never found “her people”, when she got here she discovered that “the vibe was very accepting, and it didn’t matter that I was not quite an original, and not quite new”. Now change is a funny thing: when it comes to the stuff of human lives, everything gets rather knotty. Frequently we are unable to say how it happened; sometimes we scarcely even know that it has. Little by little change creeps up on us, nudging this, shifting that, until one day we pause, take a look around, and feel stunned. We note that the landscape has altered, or feel some great weight has lifted. We blink once, blink twice, and ask: “Oh, but how on earth did that happen?” So if you are here and attempting to recover, give it time. Water your inner plant, feed it our famed sunsets. Speak to others. Yield to infinite acceptance of the sea. Trust in the fact that Margate saves people. Special things do happen in this town, and Margate’s ground might be just the foundation you need. Some names have been changed to respect our interviewees’ privacy. Emilia Ong is a writer who moved to Margate during the first lockdown, following almost a decade abroad. Here, she too has a view of the sea.
Save Our Shul Help us preserve the Margate Synagogue
Writer Francesca Ter-Berg
Photographer Nathan Jones
We highlight a new and urgent campaign to retain an important local cultural treasure for the community
he Margate Synagogue was built in 1929 as the first permanent home in the area for Jewish worship. A beautiful Arts and Crafts-style building, it accommodated the growing number of local Jewish residents as well as the large influx of Jewish tourists who came to the town each summer. Now the synagogue is under threat and the building is being auctioned on 16 December. Jews settled in Kent as early as 1762, notably in Chatham, Margate and Ramsgate, with the famous Sephardi Montefiore Synagogue in Ramsgate being built in 1847. Between the 1920s and the late 1970s there was a strong Jewish presence in Margate, and especially Cliftonville, with countless Jewish-owned hotels and shops. Margate became the most popular UK holiday destination for British Jews and the Margate Synagogue flourished. However, over the years, membership has dwindled as Jewish residents moved away from the area or became too elderly to attend. The building remained in use until three years ago when the congregation could no longer summon the minyan (ten men) necessary to conduct services. Until recently school visits were welcomed, to see the beautiful interior and learn about the building’s history. Inside the synagogue could be found
Directors of Cliftonville Cultural Space. L-R, Lucy Lyons, Francesca Ter-Berg, Kate Gillespie, Jan Ryan
hand-scribed Torahs dressed in silver, a bimmah (prayer platform), ornate with unique brass fittings and seating, an everlasting light, as well as recently restored stained glass windows. Sadly most of the building’s assets have now been stripped ahead of the auction. It was during the initial lockdown that I first noticed the space. As a professional musician and part of the international Klezmer community, I have performed at many Jewish spaces including old synagogues. I was interested in its potential as a music venue, only to learn of its imminent sale and the likelihood of it being sold to property developers rather than retained as a community-owned asset to benefit the local area. A few weeks later the Cliftonville Cultural Space CIC was formed. Its other members are Jan Ryan, former director of POW! and founding director of UK Arts International; artist and academic Dr Lucy Lyons, who teaches at UCL and the Margate School, as well as running Gordon House, an exhibition space which also hosts artists’ residencies; and Kate Gillespie, who has worked with charities and in education for the past 20 years. We are all local residents of Jewish heritage, committed to saving the building for community use. We plan to create an intercultural space, which will host arts and
Margate Mercury music events, workshops, talks, film screenings, performances and exhibitions for residents and beyond. A section of the building will be dedicated to the Jewish history of East Kent, thus preserving the legacy of the area for schools and other groups. The main space will accommodate around 300 people; there is no other building of this size in Thanet that can provide such a varied programme of cultural activities. I grew up in Dalston, an area which has experienced extreme gentrification resulting in many of its historic buildings either being pulled down, made into flats, or being converted into private homes. None of us wants to see this happen to Cliftonville, and to prevent this happening we need to raise £400,000 in a very short time. The support for this campaign is growing daily, with endorsements from numerous artists, public figures and local community organisations, including actors Miriam Margolyes, Steven Berkoff and Sir Ben Kingsley; Grammy award-winner Imogen Heap; writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen; celebrity potter Keith Brymer Jones; Turner Prize-winning
multi-disciplinary arts collective Assemble; and a host of local and national organisations: Dreamland, the Margate School, Margate Film Festival, Margate Radio, GRASS Cliftonville, Margate Civic Society, the Margate Arts Club, POW!, Northdown Brewery and The Jewish Music Institute at SOAS. So we are launching a Crowdfunder appeal to raise money to secure the building and cover legal fees. We are reaching out to all those who care about preserving the Jewish heritage and legacy of Cliftonville, who care about community empowerment and activism, and who want the future of our area to thrive with cultural spaces rather than be filled with unaffordable flats.
Oscar-winning graphicdesigner and filmmaker Arnold Schwartzman OBE, who lived in Margate and whose family were members of the Margate Synagogue, shared this message:
books on architecture, which brings me directly back to the beautiful Arts and Crafts-style Margate Synagogue building. Today I find that at my ripe age of 85 I’m perhaps one of the oldest surviving members of Margate’s past thriving Jewish community, an age just a few years short of the laying of the building’s foundation stone in 1928. With the recent knowledge that the building is to be sold - the very institution where my late father was honorary treasurer - I feel compelled to champion the efforts being made to assist in procuring the structure for a much-needed local cultural space for the town’s now burgeoning arts community.”
“My parents first brought me on holiday to Margate when I was just a few weeks old. Years later I returned to the seaside town to live and to be educated at the Thanet School of Art & Crafts, where the many disciplines that I was taught included the history of architecture. That schooling enabled me to eventually become a Royal Designer, an Oscar-winning documentary director, as well as the author of a number of
To get involved please email savecliftonvillesynagogue@ gmail.com To donate to the campaign please go to crowdfunder.co.uk/ save-our-shul-margate Follow us on facebook.com/ saveourshulmargate for regular updates
a vision realised Interview by Zac Sweet Photographer Ethan Cotton
Can you tell us a little bit about the CIC and the journey it’s come on? It’s quite a long journey, which starts and ends with Eli - it’s his vision. Eli came here in the early 2000s and started working, really with a blank canvas. He set up some events and came to realise that he was unofficially running a community interest company. So he founded the CIC in 2013. Although it was doing bits and pieces of work, it sat there for a little while because Eli was working to get the festivals going, and the venue on its feet. We met by chance, here actually. I talked to him and I thought, “I really like this man’s vision.” So I started working here, volunteering. From there we lit a fire under Westcoast CIC. What is the vision for Westcoast Kent CIC? We have an inclusive, diverse business and a passion to create a vibrant, innovative space with community at its heart. We have created a multimedia centre which
On a visit to Olby’s, where Westcoast Kent CIC was conceived some twenty years ago, Hartsdown Academy students Zac Sweet and Ethan Cotton speak to development and community liaison manager Clare Hollister and owner Eli Thompson about their projects and plans
and events, not just for one year and then the next year it’s gone. That’s why we want to work with young people. It might not be about the ’60s and mods by the time we are ready to hand over these events. It could be some new scene - we want young people to inspire us. We want to say to young people your town has got assets that you can contribute to.
will help drive the regeneration and development of Margate. We can offer our young and unemployed local people the chance to become involved through work-based traineeships, internships and the delivery of our festival brands.
This is a broadcast venue now. Can you tell us a little about Olby’s TV?
You’ve had a lot of building work done. What changes have been made? We took the decision to bring forward our planned building works for our multimedia centre, which will provide a fully equipped video edit suite, radio and podcast suite, recording studio and control room. We have partnered with Cherry Tone and are able to record in both digital and analogue mediums. The centre will be known as Studio One. We’ve worked in such a way that we are capable of running workshops, hands-on work experience, with all the safety protocols in place. Therefore we can have young people in here. For me, that’s one of the most important aspects of the work that we are doing. We can train people up, help them understand how things work. So when we are all too tired,
want to retire or whatever, there’s a group of young people coming up who know that there’s work here and opportunity - that’s really important to us. It’s work, opportunity, employability, and giving people the skills and knowledge to move forward. How do you answer the usual criticism that this is a project with no relevance to local people? When we first arrived here in Margate, there was no real output for young people to develop in the creative sector. There was no Turner - only Dreamland. Our expertise and background was music and the music industry, so we decided to look at Margate’s musical history, turn those bits into events and celebrate them. Margate was historically known for its soul scene and for being the place where the skinheads and the bikers would come. The reason we created Margate Soul Festival wasn’t because it was something new. We want to encourage local people to celebrate the stories of their history through music
Olby’s TV is an on-demand streaming platform with a focus on community, arts, wellbeing and entertainment. Our aim is to provide a platform for individuals and organisations in Kent to broadcast content relevant to our area. It will start with programming from Olby’s Studio One and build to include content from local creatives and organisations. We believe Olby’s TV will add to the development of creative arts in the region, which is extremely important to the wellbeing of our community and, in particular, our young people. It will increase the opportunity for on-the-job, work-based learning and employability. What kinds of programmes can we expect to see? We have started filming content and our programming is really varied. Here is a taste of some of what we offer: In the Front Room with Sabina Desir, a chat show focusing on, but not exclusive to, local people; The Journey,
Update on the Margate Mercury Young Contributor Programme (YCP)
Image courtesy of Westcoast Kent CIC
in which Leon Williams explores the musical and rhythmical influence African slaves had in North and Latin America; Wellbeing - the Whole Body with David Michel and friends, exploring health and mindfulness through a variety of practices; The Knowledge Drop with DJ Hooch workshops, Q&A sessions and B-Boy championship battles. We have also recorded a four-hour Christmas Day special to lift our spirits with the world’s number one tribute to Bob Marley, Legend Live. Anyone who has a programme idea or content ready for transmission can get in touch with us. Olby’s works with a number of local organisations. Tell us about your partners and how you work with them. Collaboration and partnerships are important drivers for us. We are very keen to work with like-minded organisations in Margate and Thanet because we believe that we should work together; we shouldn’t duplicate effort. We have forged relationships with Canterbury Christ Church University, Open School East, Turner Contemporary and Arts Education Exchange, with the aim of developing projects which provide work-based training for young people and those who find themselves unemployed. Through our multimedia centre we can provide internships, traineeships and volunteering opportunities for young people to learn through
on-site, work-based learning. We are keen to link up and collaborate with local creative arts, youth and community-based organisations and would encourage them to get in touch. Similarly we are always looking for donors or sponsors to support our community work.
“We have an inclusive, diverse business and a passion to create a vibrant, innovative space with community at its heart”
2020 has been challenging but still brought positive changes for Olby’s. What have been the highlights? This has been a challenging year for us all. We made the decision early on to adapt and change to allow us to continue with our ambitions for Studio One and capitalise on our recent progress utilising and making best use of the equipment we had
installed. We were very fortunate and grateful that Arts Council England recognised the work we are doing and approved our application for the Culture Recovery Fund. Early on during the first lockdown we were approached by the Medway African and Caribbean Association (MACA) to help them deliver a project delivering specialist food supplies to elderly members of society who could not leave their homes and were unable to obtain the food they liked. Supporting this charity and delivering to this group has proved to be a special and satisfying experience for everyone involved. What are you planning for 2021? 2021 will see the return of our four festivals, Margate Mods & 60s, Skagate, Margate Soul Festival and Margate Jazz, which have become an important part of our community. They will provide opportunities in event-planning, audio tech, filming, administration and social media as part of our work-based learning scheme and volunteering opportunity. We are particularly interested in working with young people who have fallen out of the traditional education sector. We plan to continue to drive forward with our ambitions and be an integral part of the regeneration and development of Margate and the surrounding areas. Email: email@example.com Website: olbyssoulcafe.co.uk
In January 2020 Hartsdown Academy students Louis, Patricija, Callum and Ethan joined the YCP, introducing themselves to readers in our spring issue. After visiting Olby’s in February, they were preparing a feature for our summer issue when lockdown was announced. Hannah Kingsman, English teacher and whole-school literacy lead at Hartsdown Academy, said: “We are immensely proud of our students and all they have achieved on the YCP. It was a joy to see them in print in the Mercury’s spring 2020 edition, demonstrating their hard work and commitment, and their development as aspiring photographers and journalists. This made the suspension of the programme all the more disappointing. However, through perseverance and determination, we have managed to pull this piece together, with special thanks to Ethan, Zac, the Mercury’s dedicated team and the lovely staff at Olby’s. In spite of current restrictions, we are excited about the prospect of welcoming the programme back into school when conditions allow and look forward to more students benefiting from this opportunity.”
Young Photographers Callum Smith - Callum has made the decision to focus on his schoolwork, with the commencement of his GCSE studies. Ethan Cotton - Despite the unavoidable set-back and disruption to the programme, Ethan has remained committed to developing his photography skills through the YCP, and is studying for his final GCSE exams next summer.
Young Writers Louis Miles - Louis successfully completed his GCSEs at Hartsdown and has now gone on to study at college. Patricija Bruere - Currently working toward her final year 13 exams, Patricija has decided that she no longer wants a career in journalism. Time over lockdown made her re-evaluate decisions for her future and she would now like to be a paramedic, so is aiming to pursue this in her studies. Zac Sweet took over interviewing duties in the absence of Louis and Patricija. He is a year 13 student taking English and computer science at IB level and a Btec in media. After sixth form, Zac hopes to either study film and production, or take a gap year to build his portfolio. He has always been interested in video creation, so wants to pursue it as a career.
Musical journeys Writer Adam Tinnion Photographer Nadira Amrani
Jamaican-born Margate local Denai Moore enjoys the space and freedom her new home allows her
How long have you been living in Margate and what brought you to the area? I’ve been in Margate for almost two years now, and it’s completely changed my relationship with work. I feel so much more calm and grounded here than I did in London. I actually played the Margate on the Sea festival around five years ago, and really enjoyed it. I just went for it two years ago with my partner, after wanting a fresh change. What brought you to the UK from Jamaica? My dad had moved to London for work the year before my family did, so we decided to follow. I was only nine years old. I had been to London before but it was a big change for me because there is more of an individual sensibility in the UK than in Jamaica, which isn’t something I was used to.
Everything is amplified here, whereas Jamaica has a much slower pace. You’re forced to slow down there, sometimes I have to make myself slow down here too. How did you get started as a musician? I wrote my first song on a guitar when I was 12 years old and it changed my life. I always knew I wanted to pursue something in music and writing offered me a unique opportunity to help myself, but to also help other people be seen. Writing can feel so isolating, you spend so much time in your own head dreaming things that don’t exist yet. It can definitely feel really intense. It’s always a relief when you release something and it’s no longer yours, you pass it on to the world and the audience have to make up their minds about it.
You got a huge career breakthrough with the track The Light with SBTRKT - how did that collaboration come about? Aaron (SBTRKT) had heard the first song I ever put out called Flaws on SoundCloud and got in contact with my manager at the time. I met him briefly and he played me a few beats but I was still nervous about writing with people, so I actually wrote this alone in my bedroom. I really loved being a part of that record as I’m such a fan of his work. Listening to your albums, I can see why you describe yourself as “genrefree”. How have you found that approach has aided your releases so far in terms of how each album is structured? I say genre-free because I think in the music industry there’s a tendency to
place artists in boxes that often don’t reflect their work. I feel like I’ve had that experience before and always felt that I’ve never made a record that clung to any genre in particular. For me it’s empowering to say that I make genre-free music. Looking at your most recent album, released during summer 2020, you worked with Alex from Everything Everything. How did that relationship come about and how did the creative process work with him? Alex and I were talking back and forth years before even working together. I always knew I was going to make a record with him. After touring We Used to Bloom, I candidly wrote a few new songs that felt really different to me. They were To The Brink and Motherless Child, and when we made them I knew that I was going to go on this journey with Alex.
Our partnership is really natural I think we both want to make music that is interesting and we both get a bit geeky about doing something fresh and new. Bringing it back to Margate, in your latest video for the single “Too Close” you’re seen lying on the beach near Palm Bay while an aerial shot rises from a close up on you to eventually rising up through the clouds. How did you find shooting in the local area and how did you find the creative process for the video concept? I’ve actually shot two videos in Margate for this record. The concept of “Too Close” is about realising you don’t need to define your worth in other people. My partner and I worked of the concept and lying on a beach on my own, singing as the camera went into space, then back to me, reinforced the meaning of the song. We’ve created a lot of content here in Margate during the pandemic, going back to very simple settings. It’s amazing what you can do with a few resources - and a drone of course! As with everything right now, it’s inevitable we have to bring Covid into the discussion, especially in relation to the arts. How have you found 2020? How has the pandemic affected your plans? For example, your album was released during the summer. Was that always the plan or did the pandemic make you have to shift focus from live performance to recording? I’ve found a lot of solace in 2020, strangely. I’ve had more time to work on producing music on my own. I’ve also had the time to have less noise
around me. A lot of plans were put on hold, but that’s ok. I think I’ve learned a lot about my relationship with working through this pandemic. I’ve also had a lot of fun shooting content for this record in a way I would have never done. I shot a music video in my bedroom, and did a lot of editorial shoots remotely. What’s your favourite Margate hangout? So many spots, besides Palm Bay Beach. I love the Storeroom and Forts. I’m such a foodie and avid coffee drinker. I love the food scene around here, there seems to be a focus on local produce in a way that is very refreshing. Everyone is using local bread and showcasing local business. If you were given a blank cheque to invest in Margate, where would you spend it? I would probably say an independent cinema. Film is such a massive influence on me visually. I think there would be space for something here in Margate. What are your plans for 2021? I’m currently writing new music, which is exciting. Things are starting to click together and make more sense to me sonically. It’s nice to be able to make music and just have more time that I wouldn’t have had before the pandemic. Denai’s most recent album Modern Dread, released during summer 2020, is available on all good streaming platforms.
I’m With u
This was one of the first songs that I saw myself in when I was younger. It’s actually the song that propelled me into writing my first lyrics. I wrote them over this melody and music when I was eight. My first lyrics are lost somewhere in a notebook in Jamaica - I’d kill to read them now.
Denai’s playlist Listen here: bit.lyMMwindenai 2
All I Do
My favourite love song! Stevie will always be my songwriting hero.
Radiohead is my favourite band! In Rainbows is the perfect album to me. This song is a big inspiration for me and I’ve used it as reference to songs on my new album Modern Dread.
The Reminder was the first record I bought on iTunes. I remember I got a voucher for my birthday and listened to all the clips. This song resonates to me really deeply. Discovering Feist helped me to better understand myself as an artist. The Reminder changed me.
Many Rivers To Cross I grew up hearing this song, whether it was from my dad playing it on piano, or at an event. This song has become one of my all time favourites. It’s very timeless and is a song that reminds me of home.
I was also very late to the Sufjan party - when I listened to The Age of Adz for the first time it blew my mind. It’s such a colourful, dense journey. This album is what made me become such a big fan of his.
This was my first introduction to Gnarls Barkley’s voice, which is so powerful! This song is just insane melodically, it’s one of my favorite pop moments in history.
Everything Means Nothing To Me Elliott Smith I discovered Elliot Smith a lot later on in my life and now he’s my favourite lyricist of all time. I think he is such an unsung hero in music history. This song especially is one of my favourites of his.
In it together Writer Lucy Edematie
Photographer Simon Bell
After a difficult 2020 GRASS Cliftonville reflects on the challenges faced and overcome and looks forward to supporting its community through Christmas and to a spring reawakening in 2021
Tell us about GRASS Cliftonville. The Gordon Road Area Street Scheme (GRASS) was launched in 2003 as a resident-led, volunteer community group. Our aims at GRASS Cliftonville are to improve the quality of life for residents in Cliftonville and to enable and encourage children, young people, families and the older generation to actively participate in our community, help to resolve local issues and be a part of the decision-making that affects all our lives. While our focus is on Cliftonville, our reach is much greater - our events and projects attract residents and guests from across Thanet. GRASS runs a number of community-based projects many of which will have been impacted by Covid-19. What impact did the pandemic have, and how did you adapt? Covid impacted our community work massively in 2020, as most of our events attract large crowds, which meant they had to be downsized, or
even cancelled. We were so sad to have to cancel the Cliftonville Outdoor Cinema and Cliftonville Games, but we look forward to bringing them back, bigger and better than ever, at the Oval in 2021. We were delighted to continue with a socially distanced Cliftonville in Bloom gardening competition, and the committee brought our new Halloween event Spooktonville to fruition - we managed to gave away nearly 100 pumpkins and goodie bags to the community, as well as running a spooky Halloween colouring competition for kids. Despite its incredibly challenging nature, what was the highlight of 2020 for GRASS? GRASS Cliftonville had to adapt quickly at the start of the pandemic, as we could see the community was struggling and food banks were finding it difficult to keep up with the increase in demand. As a committee, we acted fast and plans were drawn up for a shopping voucher scheme with funding from the National Lottery community fund. Each week GRASS
Margate Mercury Cliftonville distributed individual £25 vouchers to those households financially impacted by the Covid pandemic, and to date we have helped over 1,500 people in Cliftonville West. The pandemic has affected everyone, so we wanted the shopping voucher scheme to focus on those that needed help quickly, and as a result we have met loads of our neighbours, made new friends, and even recruited some lovely volunteers who want to get stuck in when we are able to restart our community events next year.
“The Oval will be able to provide a Covid-safe outdoor venue that will celebrate our diverse Cliftonville community and support local talent” Tell us about the voucher scheme to help families purchase Christmas presents. Our Children’s Christmas Voucher Scheme has been set up to support those families that need a little extra help this Christmas. Back in August, GRASS joined forces with Comic Relief to help develop this scheme and bring some much-needed Christmas cheer for the festive season. We will deliver £50 gift vouchers from Smyth’s Toys to help struggling families pay for Christmas presents for their little ones. We would usually hold our annual children’s Christmas party, but sadly due to COVID-19 we couldn’t go ahead and wanted to do something special instead. Applications can be made on the GRASS Cliftonville website and applicants must be in receipt of Universal Credit. Applicants must also be resident in Cliftonville West or Margate Central wards to apply. Understandably, many traditional festive activities will not be going ahead this year. Does GRASS have any events planned during the winter and festive season? GRASS is hosting its annual Christmas Post Box unveiling event at the Gordon Road community garden on Sunday 6 December at 1pm. The Post Box will be ready to receive letters for Santa Claus. Last year the Christmas Post Box was a huge success and Santa Claus received over 70 letters from children in the community. If children would like to receive a reply from Santa, they must pop their letters or cards
into the Christmas Post Box before Wednesday 16 December and let Santa Claus know what they would like for Christmas. Children should remember to include their name, age and address to help the elves. GRASS will have hot drinks, mince pies and sweets to celebrate the grand unveiling of the Christmas Post Box. If we have any extension to the lockdown, the Christmas Post Box will still be in place, accepting letters. However remember to check social media for the grand unveiling event updates. GRASS took ownership of the Oval Bandstand recently. What is your vision for the site? We were absolutely thrilled to announce after months of hard work and preparation, that GRASS Cliftonville was chosen as the preferred buyer of the Oval Bandstand and Lawns as part of a community asset transfer from Thanet Council. It’s been a long road which we embarked on over a year ago, and our immediate plans include reinstating replicas of the original Victorian lanterns and lamp posts, painting the bandstand, and reopening the kiosk and toilets to create a thriving community events venue. We have started our community engagements and our first online virtual meeting with local musicians and creatives took place on 11 November, with lots of fantastic ideas, which included bringing wrestling back to the Oval, as it was hugely popular there in the 1980s.
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Looking ahead, what key activities are planned for 2021? This December GRASS Cliftonville will launch its community crowdfunding campaign, as we hope to raise funds so that we can commence improvements to the Oval site once we officially take on the freehold at the start of April 2021. We are calling on the community to really get behind us and donate whatever they can afford. The more we raise, the faster we can hit the ground running and get the site working for the community. With the decimation of the events and music industry this year, the Oval will be able to provide a Covid-safe outdoor venue that will celebrate our diverse Cliftonville community and support local talent. Where can people find out more about GRASS, get involved or support the work you do? You can find us across all social media platforms, just search for GRASS Cliftonville. For all the latest news, voucher applications, donations, and volunteering opportunities, come and visit our website at grasscliftonville.org
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Come and have a chat with us! Unit 10, Maple Leaf Business Park, Ramsgate CT12 5GD Tel: 01227 766555 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.parkersdesignprint.co.uk
FOOD & DRINK
Food News Everything you need to know about eating in Margate Compiled & written by
Mama Jinny Thai Kitchen Margate, CT9 1EG
dishes offered a cracking punch of spice to entice our taste buds. The mixed seafood Gang Massaman (massaman curry) is a mild dish from southern Thailand, cooked with coconut milk, potatoes, onions and cashew nuts, which we had with Mama Jinny’s colourful Pad Med Ma-Maung - a twist on the classic pad thai, which was overflowing with bright vegetables. Although we were full to the brim, we still couldn’t turn down pudding. We enjoyed a Thai classic usually served from a tiny stall in a bustling market: banana fritter with honey and ice cream. Walking out of Jinny’s, I’d forgotten I was in Margate. The family-run restaurant makes you feel like you’ve travelled to a far-flung destination - and you’ll never want to leave. Facebook: @Mamajinny 01843 226555 Monday - Wednesday closed Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 5pm-9.30pm
A professional restaurant and bar designer is bringing his foodie creativity to the kitchen of Tom Thumb Theatre in Eastern Esplanade. While the curtain is down on shows, designer-turned-chef Aleksandar Taralezhkov has devised a varied menu for the theatre blending his native Bulgarian heritage with ingredients foraged from the Garden of England. Some of the dishes will be cooked in a charcoal oven. They hope to open before Christmas. Follow @tomthumbtheatre on Instagram for up-to-date information. Check out the Merman of Margate’s new winter menu at the George & Heart in King Street, which includes a brunch flatbread with smoked salmon, bubble, and poached eggs, or ox cheek and stout stew served with mashed potatoes for dinner. For more, visit themerman.co.uk The Mad Hatter Tea Rooms now offer free delivery across Thanet on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 1-3pm. You can order anything from their menu, including a cream tea box of six scones, with cream and mixed preserves for £20. Minimum orders £15 to be made by 6pm the previous day. Find TheMadHatterMargate on Facebook for more.
15, NEW Street
s I stepped into Mama Jinny’s Thai restaurant in New Street, I was instantly hit by a powerful nostalgia for cherished holidays in Thailand, as the exotic scents of the kitchen filled the room. Each table is named after a different part of Thailand, from Koh Samui to Chang Rai, which become destinations to research for (hopefully) future trips or a way to rediscover memories of that special place. The menu is authentic and vibrant, with classic Thai dishes such as Gang Kiew Wan (green curry) and Tom Yum (hot and sour soup), as well as Mama Jinny specials including steamed sea bass, crab claws curry, and weeping tiger (a grilled rump steak.) Overwhelmed by the array of dishes and not wanting to miss out on Jinny’s treats, we ambitiously over-ordered. Starting with the Poh Pia Tod (spring rolls) and Tod Man Pla (Thai fish cakes), both
The Northdown Brewery is offering a drive-through beer collection service Wednesday to Saturday, 10am4pm. If you pop along on a Saturday, Mia’s Papa Kitchen are cooking up delicious woodfired pizzas on site. Pre order on 07976 387979 and check Mia Papa’s Instagram for weekly menus @miapapaskitchen Casa pizzeria are offering 50% off food on Thursdays for eat-in customers throughout autumn and winter, as a thank you to diners for their continued support. Booking is essential. Call 01843 226852. Barletta is now at the Rose in June pub in Trinity Square. Their menu changes daily but may include mussel escabeche or a pork and smoked cheese sandwich with pickles and fries. From 6-7pm Wednesday to Friday, get two small bites, a main, a dessert and a pint/wine/negroni for £20. They also serve vegan roasts on Sundays. Follow @barlettamargate on Instagram.
Christmas treats will be on offer by the dozen at the Seaside Kitchen & Cake Parlour, which now has a vegan cafe and patisserie in the Old Town. Favourite festive treats include a vegan ‘roast beef ’ joint, yule logs, Christmas cake and brownies. Order from seasidecakeparlour.co.uk/shop or buy in store. Cliffs café in Cliftonville have invited Dive Tacos into their basement to serve up a divine selection of ceviches, tacos and margaritas. Find them there every Friday and Saturday night for the autumn/winter season. Visit divemargate.com for more.
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FOOD & DRINK
is one askin y r
Where can I find edible gifts? Whether you’re filling a Christmas stocking or finding a pressie for a pal, you can’t go wrong with something delicious that they’ll savour for a long time to come...
Bringing the talented food personalities of Margate into the limelight
Growing up with a Jamaican father and British mother, it’s no surprise that Natalie Richards’ cooking at Fuzion Flavaz has a blend of influences. When she’s not in the kitchen impressing the diners at the Mulberry Tree pub, she’s a DJ and documentary-maker, and supports people who have been affected by domestic violence locally
Kent Fresh offers beautiful hampers of fruit, vegetables, groceries and baked goods, as well as dairy products delivered right to your doorstep. Check out what’s available: kentfreshdelivery. co.uk/shop Margate tea experts Chai Wallah have launched their very own hand-made tea Christmas advent calendar, with 24 different flavours. Check out their tea gifts with personalised notes by visiting chaiwallahmargate.co.uk Urchin wines have got truffle crisps, Spanish olives and their very own Margate seaweed chilli oil which make delicious stocking fillers. For those who like a tipple or two, Urchin will also be offering a weekly essentially wine drop to Thanet addresses, as well as hampers. urchinwines.com Northdown Brewery Christmas boxes will be delivered to you in time for the big day, including some of their most popular brews. Find out more by visiting northdownbrewery. com Wild Margate Honey makes a sweet gift. It’s handmade by artist Dominic Rose with his honeybee colonies in Cliftonville. Pick up a jar from The Grain Grocer, KG Winters, Dory’s, Modern Provider, Batchelor’s Patisserie or the Turner Contemporary. wildmargate.co.uk Storeroom by Curve Roasters not only sells fresh coffee, but it also has a range of cups to drink it and the cafetières to brew it, perfect pressies for a caffeine-lover. Find them in Union Road or on Insta: @storeroombycurve You’ll find Italian delicacies by the dozen at Bottega Caruso on Broad Street. From rich tomato sauce to Tuscan wine, fresh cheeses and meat, there’s something for everyone at this mouth-watering, authentically Italian treasure trove. Go to bottegacaruso.com The hampers at KG Winters would be an enviable gift for your nearest and dearest this Christmas. Try the 100% Kent box with KG chutney, Kent Crisps, Kent Cherry Juice and Kentish Pip Cider to name but a few of the products inside. They’re also soon to offer home and cookware so watch this space. Browse in Northdown Road or visit kgwinters.co.uk
My childhood was immersed in music, food and dancing. From the age of six or seven, I was learning the ropes from my Irish grandmother with stews and baking cakes, or I’d be picking vegetables from my grandad’s allotments. But when my Jamaican family was cooking, it was either chicken or curry and rice and peas - a Jamaican staple - as we danced around the kitchen. When I was a teenager, I visited my dad’s mother in the heart of Kingston and it was there I learned how to make the very best Jamaican food. Food has always been a massive part of my life. Moving to Margate from London around four years ago, I wanted to bring a West Indian vibe both music and food - down with me. As a DJ, I love to entertain, so I’d host nights at my house cooking up a storm for friends. Other people started to hear about my cooking and inquired, so I set up a delivery
service of Caribbean cuisine. I finished my masters in documentary-making just before the pandemic, and afterwards I was approached by the Mulberry Tree about using their kitchen for deliveries. But when the pub punters started to smell the curried goat and jerk chicken, they wanted a piece of it! Now I’m trying to bring my influences into every dish I create. ‘Doing the Most With the Roast’, for example, is a traditional British roast but with Jamaican trimmings. It’s a blend of my heritage. When I’m not cooking or working full time, I’m working on my next documentary. Soon I’ll be releasing Fifty-Fifty, which is about my experience of growing up mixed heritage.” Find Natalie at Fuzion Flavaz at the Mulberry Tree on Saturday and Sunday, 2pm until late or listen to her on Radio Margate on Boxing Day 6-8pm
scissortail · coffee ·
coffee · cakes · croissants vegan ·gluten free
OUMA ’ S KITCHEN 189 Northdown Road Margate oumaskitchen.co.uk @oumaskitchen
Margate Old Town 33 Hawley Street, CT9 1QA @scissortailcoffee www.scissortail.co.uk
FOOD & DRINK
Movable feasts Writer Selena Schleh
‘Dark kitchens’ might sound a bit sinister, but these aren’t witches’ dens where eye of newt is boiled and cauldrons bubble: they’re a burgeoning trend in the food industry. As lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions bite physical restaurants and shops, business is booming for delivery-only kitchens run from home. We meet five of Margate’s food entrepreneurs
GEORGIA JEFFS L U C A’ S K I T C H E N
NIC & DAN ELLIOT M A R G AT E C U R RY C LU B Georgia Jeffs, founder of Luca’s Kitchen, isn’t a classically trained chef, but food certainly runs in the family. Back in the 1980s her nonna dished up hearty Italian fare at renowned Croydon eatery Mamma Adele’s, while her dad ran a meal-kit delivery business. “I grew up with food and have always cooked for my husband and my children,” says Georgia, who was a full-time mum prior to launching her business in April. “People kept telling me I should sell my food, so it was a natural progression.” Named after the youngest of Georgia’s two sons, Luca’s Kitchen serves up the kind of classic comfort food everyone craves. Saltimbocca, chicken pie and lasagne topped with herbs from Georgia’s own garden are lovingly slow-cooked in her family kitchen and delivered in fully compostable packaging, ready for reheating in the oven.
Operations were paused over summer: commercial cooking, Georgia admits, was simply not compatible with school holidays and childcare, despite her elder son’s offer of help. “He picks ‘herbs’ from the garden which aren’t actually herbs, so he’d probably poison everyone,” she laughs. With the kids back at school and a second lockdown underway, it was the ideal time to restart. Georgia plans to incentivise collection (her delivery driver is currently her husband) and use more local suppliers, rather than relying on Ocado for her organic ingredients. Having struggled with postpartum illness and imposter syndrome, she’s “incredibly proud” of her fledgling business. “I really believe in it, and I want people to be eating this kind of food all of the time.” Order via Instagram @lucaskitchenmargate
Describing themselves as “curry magpies, [who] plunder recipes from around the world for something a little bit different”, Westgate couple Nic and Dan Elliott, aka the Margate Curry Club, have spent the past two years livening up locals’ Friday lunchtimes with home-cooked dishes that draw inspiration from as far afield as Jamaica, Tonga and Sri Lanka. Forget bland kormas and chicken tikka masalas: try slow-cooked, northern Indian railway mutton or Indo-Chinese inspired crispy tofu in a sweet-and-sour sauce. Dan learned his culinary skills from his grandmother, who was stationed in India with her husband in the 1930s. United by a love of curry, he and Nic started MCC as a side hustle to their IT jobs. “We worked from home on a Friday and made curry for ourselves, then people started asking: have you got any left over?” Nic remembers.
As demand grew beyond friends and family, they set up a Facebook group and Instagram account for orders and have recently expanded deliveries from Thursday to Monday evenings. The transition to a fully fledged business demanded a “mental mindshift”, says Nic: margins, presentation and packaging (MCC’s is all either compostable or recyclable) are now top of mind, though the approach remains small batch: “When it’s gone it’s gone.” Pandemic permitting, they hope to launch a MCC pop-up with a “community-based, unfussy, shared pots on the table” vibe - and even a food truck down the line. For now, though, the Elliotts are happy traversing the globe from their kitchen, via the multicultural medium of curry. Order via Instagram @margatecurryclub, or Facebook: Margate Curry Club email@example.com ►
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Pretty’s Dutchpot Delivery Bringing the Taste of the Caribbean to Your Door Try some of our favourites: • Pepper Steak • Curry Goat • Jerk Chicken • Fried fish More dishes available on our facebook page Pretty’s Dutchpot Margate Contact us: on Facebook or call 01843 313571 Taking orders from Monday - Friday, 12noon until 9pm Free delivery for orders - £ 15 and over
FOOD & DRINK
MARC HORSTED JA M FAC E
From sandwiches to cheese boards or doughnuts, there’s barely a dish that’s not improved by a dollop of Jamface’s chilli jam. Hot, smoky and fruity, it even works on your morning toast, reckons founder Marc Horsted, pairing perfectly with peanut butter. Even if you haven’t sampled his wares, you’ve probably spotted Jamface’s distinctive jars, which line the shelves of Modern Provider, Batchelors, KG Winters and Quex Barn. An ecological consultant by day, London-born Marc has “always been into chillies” and originally made his jam as a wedding favour. Demand soon grew beyond friends and family to Christmas markets, and since moving to Margate two years ago the business has “snowballed”. Luckily, Marc has been able to keep up by borrowing the facilities at Skinny Dip and Sargasso for batch cooking
(“it’s much more pleasant working in a professional kitchen than having your house stinking of vinegar”), reserving his home kitchen for recipe testing. The chillies themselves - smoky chipotle, fruity habanero, citrusy aji limon - are mainly sourced from a Mexican importer, though Marc also buys from British growers, like the South Devon Chilli Farm. “Ultimately my aim is to go over [to Mexico], meet a farmer and be able to import chillies directly,” he says. For the time being, Marc’s got his hands full cooking, labelling, delivering, and doing the admin and invoicing, alongside a part-time job and family commitments. Thanet’s strong community spirit has helped enormously. “There’s a lot of support for local businesses: everyone wants everyone else to succeed.” jamfacejams.com
Image courtesy of Alan Harford
JESSICA LEAH C AT E R I N G
MIKE & OLLIE
How many fridges do you have at home? One? Two? Catering queen Jessica Leah has no fewer than nine - crammed into every corner of her house and groaning with the freshest ingredients from Fruits de Mer, Worgans butchers and J Prentis greengrocers, ready to be transformed into culinary delights including beef wellington, rhubarb and brown sugar frangipane or falafel scotch eggs. With ambitions to become a chef “as soon as [she] could speak”, Maltese native Jessica spent 13 years honing her craft, from an apprenticeship at the Gleneagles Hotel to head chef at Wyatt & Jones in Broadstairs, via stints at restaurants in London and Malta, before striking out on her own in 2016. What started as a handful of private dinners swiftly grew into a thriving business, catering for weddings, corporate events and chef ’s tables.
When the first lockdown put paid to catered events, Jessica launched a popular meal-delivery service, with a weekly changing menu. Though no stranger to long hours at Wyatt & Jones, she’d see her young son for just ten minutes a day), the new set-up was “crazy. My husband was working seven days a week, and I was homeschooling our two children in the kitchen, while cooking 400 meals a week and writing menus at 3am!” Now the second lockdown has been and gone, Jessica plans to continue feeding the community once again and helping people mark, in a small way, the big occasions they are missing out on, be it a 100th birthday party or a wedding. “[This year] has been so rubbish, it really has,” she says. “So I like the fact that what I’m doing is making someone’s day a little less rubbish.” jessicaleahcatering.com
After a back-breaking weekend feeding 240 hungry mouths from a market stall, most of us would like a cup of tea and a sit-down. Not Mike Richardson, founder of Mike & Ollie, who’d rather spend his downtime foraging for seaweed along Thanet’s coast or experimenting with naturally fermented sodas. A self-taught cook – “I don’t do cheffy things: I don’t have any tweezers or small squeezy bottles” – Mike launched Mike & Ollie in 2011 (his co-founder Ollie has since moved on, but the name remains). Over the past ten years he’s opened and closed two restaurants and set up a weekly pitch at London’s trendy Brockley and Victoria Park markets, slinging homemade flatbreads topped with fresh-caught mackerel or slowcooked lamb, while using his catering company as a vehicle for “interesting projects revolving around food,
people, community, environment and sustainability”. After driving down every Sunday for a swim and “to do my boring admin by the sea”, Mike finally moved his prep kitchen from Camberwell to Margate in 2019. As well as working with local fishermen and farmers, he’s become a keen forager of everything from mushrooms to razor clams. “It’s a way to keep yourself in tune with the seasons and the environment, and eat tasty and unusual things,” he says. Although Covid decimated the normally busy summer wedding season, cutting two-thirds of his income, Mike is glad “not to be thoroughly exhausted” and is already plotting new farm-to-fork ventures for when restrictions lift, including pop-up dining events and a food festival on the sheep farm that supplies his lamb. Watch this space. mikeandollie.co.uk
The Difference we can make Writer Peter Erlam
Photographer Sheradon Dublin
Volunteering your time to a cause is fun and fulfilling - and has never been more necessary. We speak to five giving locals who get a lot out of their good work
ne of the few positives to emerge from this Covid-defined year is that our levels of care and concern for others have moved up several notches. Neighbours looking out for each other and people giving freely of their time - volunteering seems to have captured the zeitgeist, the defining spirit of our times. This is as true of Thanet as anywhere else. However, being officially the most deprived district in Kent and one of the lowest ranked in the UK based on data for crime levels, health outcomes and unemployment, Thanet faces numerous challenges, even without the additional issues caused by the pandemic. Fortunately the area is also blessed with a huge number of charities catering for those affected by modern day ills ranging from domestic abuse to homelessness, and from food poverty to mental health issues. Now as we head into winter still under an ominous Covid cloud, we meet five locals who serve as volunteers and detail how readers can support a charity with their skills and interests.
Kent Coast Volunteering After 40 years in journalism, Peter Erlam retired early. “I decided to look for a ‘hobby job’ to fill my time. For the next three years I was a driver, first for a supermarket then for a dental laboratory. The work wasn’t particularly challenging or satisfying, and I was on a minimum wage. “I decided there must be a better way to occupy myself. From what I’d read about volunteering it seemed to be spiritually more rewarding - and it proved to be the case. “At the time I was living in Whitstable and I volunteered to do Monday afternoons at the town’s tourism information shop as well as a few shifts at a food bank. But I really got the bug when I joined a volunteer car service run by Red Zebra Community Solutions. “So, when I moved to Thanet two years ago the first thing I did was get in touch with Kent Coast Volunteering (KCV) who run the same sort of scheme for this district as well as Dover, Deal and Folkestone. It enables mainly elderly people who cannot use or access public transport to get to medical appointments.” The KCV office takes the client’s request details and matches them, where possible, with a local driver who gives his or her time free but receives a mileage payment to cover fuel costs. Peter adds: “I’ve done it for 18 months now and have made several good friends. It gives me enormous satisfaction to know I have helped someone to see their doctor or attend hospital when they might have otherwise struggled or even missed their appointment. “I know that not all the drivers returned after the first lockdown, because of their age and health, and that Thanet in particular needs more volunteers. In February there were 16 drivers covering the district but by August there were only a handful.” Contact: Mark Connorton, 01304 380513 firstname.lastname@example.org
porchlight & thanet winter shelter
Jane roscow, porchlight
A couple of years ago, retired IT teacher Jane Roscow felt bored. At the same time, she was thinking, “How wrong it is that we have people sleeping on the streets.” It was not long before Porchlight, Thanet’s largest charity for homeless and vulnerable people, started to figure prominently in her life. Jane gives an example: “I met a guy called Paul, aged 45, who had mental health problems and faced becoming homeless. He said to me, ‘Can you help me?’ I took him into Porchlight and I got him in touch with StepChange Debt Charity. They were phenomenal and sorted out all the issues that had led to his mental health problems. “There was something in him that touched my heart. When Paul needed a bank account I took him into the Nationwide and the man there couldn’t have been more understanding. He said to Paul, ‘Yes we can open an account for you,’ and shook his hand as we were leaving, which was amazing. It changed Paul’s life; he then had somewhere for his benefits to be paid into.” Jane was delighted at how Porchlight always supported her in tracking down the right solutions. For instance, when she came across a woman with various issues, Jane found that Forward Trust, who
offer drug and alcohol misuse services across Thanet, were able to help her get on medication, get her off the streets and to forge a relationship with her children. Another local group that caters specifically for the needs of the homeless during the coldest months of the year is Thanet Winter Shelter, now in its fifth year but for the first time housed in one multi-purpose location rather than a weekly rota of church halls. Project manager Lauren Oates enthuses: “It means there is also the opportunity for our guests to take part in in-house activities and creative pursuits which can potentially boost their selfesteem, build life skills and help empower them to take the first steps in ending their time living on the streets. We welcome volunteers in all areas, including cooking, delivering creative workshops, supporting shelter staff.” Porchlight
Thanet Winter Shelter
Volunteering details on porchlight.org.uk
Lauren Oates 07901 383340 lauren.oates@ salvationarmy.org.uk
AGE UK Toby Gawler, 33, a tattoo artist originally from Australia, jumped at the chance to volunteer for Age UK with his wife Clara when they moved to Thanet from London in summer last year. He explains: “Neither of us had grandparents still alive - it was a big gap in our lives that we had always wanted to bridge. Age UK’s befriending service seemed like a great opportunity to do that and to reach out to lonely and isolated elderly people who might not see anyone from one week to the next. When the charity’s Margate day centre closed in March due to the pandemic it meant a lot of those people were without the only place they could meet.” During lockdown Clara was a “phone buddy” for up to six people whom she called every week, while Toby was paired with Dave, 82, whose interests overlapped with his own. “I’m a tattooer as well as being interested in history. Dave served in the Navy, so he had tattoos of course. Having similar interests makes it easier with initial communication,” he says. Sadly Dave had to move to a hospice in Folkestone but Toby stayed in contact and visited him each week on his day off, a return journey of over three hours which he gladly undertook. Clara, who is self-employed, uses her admin skills to help the charity in other ways, such as setting up spreadsheets. Volunteering also helped the couple engage with the community when they first moved to the area. Clara says: “We’re convinced there are many similar young people with spare time to offer.”
Contact: Louise Collins, 01843 223881 email@example.com
Our Kitchen & Margate Independent foodbank Far too much food goes to waste and far too few young people know how to cook in Thanet. Our Kitchen, a social enterprise based in Margate High Street, is addressing those shameful facts as well as tackling one of the district’s direst deprivation issues: food poverty. Local resident Sue Meadowcroft, who volunteers three days a week at Our Kitchen, is the mother of two grown-up sons. She explains: “My generation are so lucky to have been taught how to cook by our mums and grans. So many young people can’t cook as they were never shown how to. That is deeply worrying. My son says to me that food literacy is now worse than reading literacy. Kids don’t cook and all they eat is rubbish.” In a bid to reverse that trend, a food club has been set up by Our Kitchen founder Sharon Goodyer. It already has over 200 members. On joining, each person is asked about their relationship with food, their allergies and diet, how they cook and for how many people, as well as their expectations of the club. Crucially members learn about nutrition - with a strong emphasis on healthy options - as well as kitchen skills and cookery tricks and tips. “The main idea is to encourage people to try to cook, without damaging their confidence,” says Sue. On the morning the Mercury visited, the shop was a hive of activity. Volunteers were stocking up shelves with a weekly delivery from FareShare Kent, provider of surplus food including, on that day, lots of apples and pears - the ingredients for delicious dishes made by the volunteer team and sold at low prices to club members. Potato wedges at 20p per bag and generous packs of garlic bread for 50p are examples of other bargain buys.
Sue says she has recently witnessed new levels of food poverty in Margate and, without wanting to denigrate food banks, she believes Our Kitchen offers a different kind of solution to free handouts. “There the users don’t get to choose the food they have, they are just given it. There is more dignity in paying for your own food and, even better, cooking it yourself,” Sue adds. The food club model championed by Sharon is set to be repeated in Ramsgate and Westgate, where volunteers will also be needed. Also working to support locals experiencing food insecurity is Margate Independent Foodbank. Director Darryn De La Soul shared: “We have been blessed with many amazing volunteers - we could simply not run without them! Therefore we are always eager to widen our pool of volunteers, so we can give some regulars a day off, and to cover any short-notice absences caused, for instance, by the need to self-isolate. “The work is surprisingly physical - tinned food weighs a lot and the odd 25kg sack of potatoes needs lugging around - but we can also find gentler jobs. We may also soon be looking for volunteers to assist with off-site activities like admin, social media and fundraising. There is a remarkable level of background admin that needs to be done.” Our Kitchen
sue meadowcroft, our kitchen
Sharon Goodyer 07912 793980 sharongoodyer@ hotmail.com
Margate Independent Foodbank Darryn De La Soul firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook Margate Independent Foodbank
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Voicing the unheard Writer Alastair Hagger Photographer Kat Green
How the artists of Margate are talking about race
o what did we learn, 2020? That to no one’s real surprise, some of the people out there are not so “very fine” after all; that we’ve actually come nowhere near as far as we should have in the 50 years since the civil rights movement; that yes, some lives really do seem to matter less than others; and that riots remain Martin Luther King’s “language of the unheard”? Or that while some of us have decided to just stop talking to each other about the social construct of race, many people struggle to even start? Art is a performative gesture, and a gesture’s coda, as Les Ferdinand warned in September about the practice of taking the knee, becomes “diluted” without action. But it can also bring us closer to the American artist Kara Walker’s idea of the discursive demilitarised zone, “a conflicted or contestable space, without real-world injury or loss”. Simply put, how can art help us to have the conversations we need to have - without confrontation, but with understanding and empathy? No one can argue Thanet isn’t a blank canvas; to the Office of National Statistics, the mid-90th percentile of Margate residents identify as White British. Now a growing number of artists with local ties are challenging race and identity labels in their work, and in their lives, and inviting us to engage in the difficult but respectful conversations that human beings in modern democracies are supposed to treasure. Three of the four artists below exhibited as part of Margate NOW 2020, a multi-disciplinary arts festival, guest-curated by People Dem Collective. Their work offers us some fresh new local perspectives on a nationwide talking point.
Eighteen-year-old artist and design student Leondre Ansah is a regular visitor to family members in Margate, and his participation in this summer’s Black Lives Matter march in the town fostered an increased awareness of how he can interrogate discussions about race in his own art. (His mother is English; his father is half-Ghanaian, half-Croatian.) His work incorporates Ghanaian Adinkra symbols, butterflies (“a symbol of vulnerability and fragility”) and representations of iconic Black performers such as the late Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman. “I feel like identity isn’t explored enough, so I explore this in my pieces in diverse ways,” he says. “Art is a fundamental way of emphasising the problems in today’s society, and how it can feel to be a person of colour.” He recounts the story of a formative encounter with a group of bullies on a basketball court in Greece while on holiday. “Verbal remarks, basically saying that I’m not black, I’m white,” he says. “I identify as mixed-race, and they couldn’t get round that. They wanted me to choose what I was.” Ansah hopes his work will trigger discussions about this kind of compulsive demand for the categorisation of identities. “The thing about racism is that it’s hidden, and you never really know when it’s going to come out,” he says. “But art starts the conversation, and makes it easier for people to see that it’s still happening.” ►
Umut Gunduz, a second-generation British Turk, and Anna Skutley, “a white, middle-class woman relatively new to the area”, are the creators of the Margate Kebab Map, an online game about two kebab restaurants in Margate, featuring a 3D rendered mapping of each restaurant and audio from interviews with the restaurants’ owners. “The kebab shop is an unrecognised institution that is a part of British culture, but never mentioned in magazines or other cultural profiles,” Skutley says. “The game is a map of migration which tells the story of these Thanet citizens and their journeys to Margate. We think it’s important to stress that the project isn’t about racial profiling and discrimination, although you may find layers of this in the interviewees’ experience. The point, really, is to create exchange between community members in these times of social isolation.” When players navigate the virtual space of Bomba Kebab & Pizza, for example, they can listen to owner Halil Tekağaç comparing the vibrant sonic life of Turkey and its Islamic calls to prayer (adhan) with the fizzing auditory landscape of a busy Margate restaurant full of hungry late-night customers. “You come and wait here around one, two o’clock,” he says. “You’ll hear a lot of shouting!” Gunduz’ own experiences with discrimination are real, interwoven with daily life, and not unique to Thanet. “My race is compounded with my class,” he says. “While I do
notice a definite effect on my everyday encounters, I’m often unsure if these instances of discrimination are because of the way I look, or the way that I sound.”
“The point, really, is to create exchange between community members in these times of social isolation” The pair hope that their work can act as a catalyst for tolerance, a tool for facilitating reciprocal acknowledgement. “The Margate Kebab Map is meant to inspire curiosity about the person behind the counter,” says Skutley. “Art, in general, has a responsibility in its portrayal of these citizens. We see taught, systematic racism as a violence which maintains its momentum through acts of cultural appropriation and misrepresentation. We believe that cultural projects that accurately reflect the community that produces them have the potential to counteract these forces.”
Margate-based Phien O’Phien is a Pavee “idearist”, an artistic conceptualist who has held exhibitions on discrimination and homelessness across the country. He says that the Pavee, or Mincéirí, are not Irish Travellers, as they are regularly described; they are “the indigenous people of Ireland”, whose ethnicity is now recognised in UK and Irish law. “We tended horses for the Romans, in this country. That’s how far back we go,” he says. “There’s a myth that we arrived here in the 1970s. That’s ridiculous. If you go round the country (there are approximately 15,000 Pavee in the UK) you’ll find that a lot of them, like me, don’t have any connection to Ireland at all.” He maintains that the catch-all Travellers descriptor can often be a misleading label which sometimes ignores the diversity and origins of its individual groupings. “It’s a term that was invented by the French for the Romany, because they travelled in wagons,” he says. “If we’d been given the name ‘hoppers’, would you expect us to hop everywhere we go?” O’Phien points out that an itinerant population has long been part of local history. “The circus proprietor Lord George Sanger, connected to Dreamland, was a travelling showman, and a lot of the people with business in Dreamland were Travellers,” he says. “Tracy Emin is said to have a Traveller heritage (Emin traced her Gypsy heritage in an episode of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?). There is a lot of Traveller connection with
Margate.” O’Phien himself plans to utilise reclaimed wooden boards from an earlier Dreamland incarnation in a forthcoming gallery show, Uprising, which will celebrate the ways in which the arts have reinvigorated Margate and its local economy. In 2019 O’Phien curated a major exhibition for the Tate Modern in London centred around the 2011 eviction of eighty Traveller families from Dale Farm, Essex. “It was a land grab,” he says. “They actually turned the prejudice and the bigotry and the hate against the Travellers to support their lies. I was there at the eviction, or the resistance as we call it, because people came from all over the world to stand with the Pavee, to say, ‘This is wrong.’ And as that was going on, you had David Cameron criticising [Robert] Mugabe for doing exactly the same thing in Zimbabwe. The hypocrisy was just alarming.” He laments the widespread lack of understanding of Pavee history and culture, and the systemic shortsightedness of the institutions which are ostensibly there to protect them. “The Pavee are a secretive community, and that’s because of the attacks they’ve had for the last two thousand years. They corral, because every day of their lives they see racism against them. The only difference is we’re white. And that causes great problems when it comes to anti-racism organisations, because they have this tendency to overlook the fact that we’re an ethnic minority. But they don’t overlook the fact that we’re white.”
The work of interdisciplinary artist Geoffrey Chambers explores different hierarchies of privilege, and the othering he maintains we are all guilty of in the intersectional landscapes of the human experience. In September he held Participate Diversity Fayre in Cliftonville. Commissioned for Margate NOW by Looping the Loop, the event was designed to challenge preconceptions about age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and neuropathy. “Using a typical village fair was important to me, to centre it in culture,” he says. The games were played with a fun and playful energy, with all the atmosphere of a late summer family outing, but the activities were structured to provide an educational message at the core of all the laughter. “On the coconut shy, for example, people were othered according to age,” Chambers says. “You could take steps forward according to how many decades you had.” Fayre-goers were even invited to wear “othering glasses”, which were painted to obscure vision - each pair created a different degree of visual impairment: “The cooler the glasses, the more the othering,” he says. “So people naturally gravitated towards the cool glasses!” Chambers also conducted a “check your privilege” survey, in which participants were asked provocative questions designed to reveal their unconscious, automatic assumptions within themselves, as well as about others. “One of the questions was, ‘Do you feel privileged?’” he says. “If you’re a non-binary person with a certain neuropathy, or of a certain wealth background, or if your surname is fifteen letters and associated with Southeast Asia, one would think you would not feel privileged. Right? But some people who ticked those boxes did feel that way. You get into these intersectional spaces where privilege and preferences get confused. Where are the boundaries of these otherings?” Visitors to the Fayre agreed that the exercise had engendered a reflective shift in their own perspectives. “I am too weak to talk back and protect myself against authority, so when I was ‘discriminated’ against, I laughed and obliged,” says Participant One. “That tells me I cannot protect others when I see people being discriminated against. That is something to take away and think about.” Participant Two says he “thought about the person who ‘gave away’ her privilege at the hoopla stand” (participants were given hoops of different sizes) and was moved to reflect on why it had troubled him. “Something wasn’t right about that, but it took me a while to work out what,” he says. “People with privilege aren’t able to level the playing field by giving their privilege away. It’s much more insidious and inherent than that. Giving away privilege isn’t an option; instead, we need to focus on sharing what we have more evenly.” Participant Three calls the Fayre
“an inspired illustration of privilege and unfairness in society re-imagined as an entertaining piece of populist performance art”. One game in particular, uprooted from its context of the compulsive, competitive fixations of the casino hall, gave her pause. “The Virtual Fruit Machine game was really fun, but it took me a while to work out what it might mean,” she says. “On reflection I realised it perfectly illustrated the pot-luck of life: the randomness of the circumstances of one’s birth, the advantages or disadvantages we face in life and in society. And never forget: the odds are always in the house’s favour.” Despite being “a bit gutted to be the only brown face participating”, Participant Four feels the Fayre was a reminder of the importance of interactivity as a tool for encouraging empathy. “I arrived weary and particularly sensitive to the themes that would be explored,” she says. “At times it looked like a fun village fayre, but then another rigged game would start, and I’d be reminded of how exhausting it can be just to keep up in life. While I didn’t learn anything that I’m not already acutely aware of, it reminded me of how much more powerful it can be to experience rather than just talk about these issues.” Chambers says the murder of George Floyd is an example of othering at its most destructive and sinister, a weapon of subjugation. “There seemed to be a moment that was a particularly European - when I say European I mean non-British - affinity with George Floyd, through his call for his mother,” he says. “A mother he knew was dead.
Image courtesy of Cemanthe McKenzie
That’s what brought people out onto the streets in Germany. In these struggles with anti-Blackness, in terms of state and systemic oppression, people lose that connection. The othering becomes such that you feel that the person who has a knee on their neck is not you.” He says that a central misunderstanding about the “myth” of race, a lack of awareness that the genetic level differences between human beings are so miniscule as to render all racial categorisation artificial, has led people to a dereliction of duty in people’s responsibility to nurture the wider human family. “I’m waiting for an ‘All Lives Matter’ person to actually stand for something,” he says. “I’ll take you at
your word. But then let’s go and put it into practice. There’s a famous James Baldwin quote, ‘I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.’ If you’re going to make a stand on ‘All Lives Matter’, then ok, do it. Let’s see it in action.” In all these artists’ work, in Kara Walker’s “conflicted, contestable space” of artistic engagement, lies an opportunity for a humanistic ceasefire, a moment of recognition and compassion. “My work about privilege is focused on a positive morality, because I suppose we are looking for allies,” Chambers says. “And allies should be more important than othering.” Watch Particpate at youtu.be/n6thMIoiVEI
all sewn up
Parties, pantos and club nights may be going online, but dressing up remains essential. With dressmaking for the male shape in demand, we meet some of this boom industry’s local makers and wearers Writer Jackie Martin
gap in the market has emerged. High street retailers can’t fill it, fashion courses don’t teach it. Dressmaking for the male shape is a potentially huge new area of trade and skill, accompanied by a string of design challenges created by non-female proportions, silhouette and gait. While RuPaul’s Drag Race UK has introduced a wider audience to the wonders of no-expense-spared transformations, it’s often the simple practicalities that prove demanding: curves simulated with sponge and wire; extra long zips allowing for height; hems that accommodate a longer stride. Self-styled adaptation of vintage clothing is popular but for professional performers, something more tailored is required. Who are some of the dames, drag artistes and dressmakers involved in this growing sector?
Julian J Smith
Following a post-MA career working on his own fashion label, Julian J Smith began bringing to life the sartorial visions of cabaret, music and performance artists such as Bourgeois & Maurice, Beth Ditto and Jonny Woo. Combining a personal drag history as Jacqui Potato with professional pattern-cutting expertise, Julian developed what he describes as “a good knowledge of shape and vavavoom”. In his Cliftonville studio, he now creates outfits from materials like tissue lamé, netting and PVC with “exactly the right type of needle and foot” to “make an entrance with volume”. He notes how drag is evolving a more “punky, confusing mix of gender tools” - bra worn with moustache, beard with manicured nails - and his work offers an appealing clash of its own: the discipline of tailoring with the freedom of invention. @j.smithstudio
The Margate-based drag act, Janet District Council, owes her unique style to the DIY dressmaking skills of her creator Bob Chicalors: “I’m very lo-fi. I use staples, sometimes safety pins to take things in.” Bob buys female garments in charity shops, particularly those that he says “land differently” on his male body “creating a slight off-ness”. These intentionally ill-fitting clothes form part of Janet’s distinctive ensemble that includes vintage spectacles (minus lenses), ginger wig and beard. To enable a quick stage reveal - the convention of one dress torn off to reveal another Bob uses press-studs and “meticulously hand-sewn Velcro seams”. He prefers synthetic fabrics like velour and those with metallic threads: “They’re so itchy but they look amazing. I’ll suffer for a look.” @bobchicalors
Crystal, drag artiste (from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK) in dress made by Julian J Smith. Photo by Peter Fingleton
▲ Rumours Roller Disco, hosted by Janet District Council (Margate Festival 2019) Photo by Larnen Hawker Outfit: The suit cost 40p from a sale in a charity shop in Blackpool and like most of Janet’s suits they are adapted with shoulder pads made from sponges. The glasses are from a discount store in Chatham, the socks and skates model’s own
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A favourite at Margate’s Sundowners drag nights, Dave Lynn emphasises his tall, slim figure in sequinned and beaded sheath dresses. “I love the glamour of ’50s gowns,” he says. His own are mostly custom-made, aided by a waist-clincher and “years of learning how to stand in a dress”. A Shirley Bassey gown still inspires his act: “For Big Spender she used her dress train for the bom-bom. I realised if you kick up a train you get a flash of light from the hem - and a cheer from the audience.” His energetic stage act demands a flexible but durable dress, typically reinforced with an industrial-quality zip and a sturdy hook and eye. These spectacular frocks are made to last: a 1994-made Dave Lynn dress has just become a Museum of Brighton exhibit. @damedavelynn
Embracing the pantomime dame’s traditional stance as “a bloke in a dress”, Westbrookbased actor and comedian André Vincent always ensures that his seasonal stage wardrobe includes both sturdy bloomers and a pair of hobnail boots. His dame costumes are cut to accommodate his triangular shape, which he first restructures with a wellstuffed bra and some M&S “magic knickers”. Female curves are contrived with luxuriously panelled, ruched or hooped skirts. “I end up with a huge bust because of my barrel chest, but I do look more beast than beauty,” he says. “Which is fine - my role is for laughs, and a short, slinky, baby doll nightdress on me brings the house down.” andrevincent.co.uk André Vincent as panto Dame Dolly Doolittle (Snow White 2019) in fast change outfit. Shot at pre-production fitting (hence the beard). Photo by Jackie Martin
Dave Lynn, drag artiste, backstage. Shot in cellar of venue (bar has since closed down). Photo by Tamzin Plank
Lorna Jean Connell Fantastical dame dresses are among the many theatrical costumes crafted by Lorna Jean Connell in her Dane Park studio. A graduate of the London School of Fashion, she was enticed into pantomime design by its sheer scope: “You need to bear in mind the different costume elements - but then you can go as crazy as you want.” One of her 2019 designs - a dress with fabricated bustle of crêpe, strawberries and whipped cream - was pure escapism. “I like to push myself a little further on each job,” she says. “More is more!” To achieve the illusion of female shape, Lorna Jean might add carved sponge or versatile “dog bed” quilting. For a custom fit she prefers to take precise in-person measurements, noting that “men often send me their chest rather than bust size!” lornajeancostumes.com Lorna Jean Connell in her studio sewing a client’s dress. Photo by Lorna Jean Connell
Jonathon Arthurs Jonathon Arthurs designs for panto professionals, drag artistes and anyone looking to pep up their wardrobe. His work is fun, graphic and continually updated: recent collections include NHS-inspired rainbow dresses and a red-andgreen Christmas gown with matching fur trim and sequins. Forming a female silhouette for larger male clients with up to a sixty-inch chest can be a challenge. Jonathon often adds a “peplum” waist frill to trick the eye, while his signature oversized puffed sleeves detract from mannish shoulders. The exaggerated contours of his lantern- and teapot-styled dresses are sculpted with wire, bone, foam or wadding but are built to last. He notes: “You have to think - can they wash this? Can it go back to the same shape afterwards?” @joeyspantodames ▲ Jonathon Arthurs sewing a dame dress, shot in Jonathon’s studio. Photo by Dean Heckley
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◄ Simon King, Andrew Blowers, David Babaian, Sagar Kharecha (left to right) After clashes at Trafalgar Square, a large contingent of BLM protestors marched along The Strand, London. Saturday 13 June 2020
THERE IN I BLACK and WHITE Writer Ivanna Wright Images courtesy of New Exit Group
No one would say 2020 has been pretty. But its epochmaking events will resonate for generations, as will the private sorrows and triumphs lived out beneath the tumult. A group of intrepid photographer-activists have documented our recent history in a new collection of images
f 2020 was a cheese it would be cottage cheese. If it were a film, it would be directed by Michael Bay. If 2020 was a song it would be auto-tuned and crude. If 2020 the year was somehow metaphorized as a household task, it would be the changing of a toilet seat. In short 2020 hasn’t been anyone’s favourite year, has it? But behind the face masks, the bleakness and the rising death toll there has been a stirring, a realisation and an uprising. You could describe 2020 as the year of… Well many things, most of the ones that immediately spring to mind we simply can’t print. But you could argue with some conviction through a megaphone and a placard that 2020 has been a year of protest. Leave Means Leave, EDL/DFLA, Bollocks to Brexit, Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter and StandUpX are among 2020’s protest headliners. I imagine most Mercury readers will be fully aware of the aforementioned, whether that be via televised images from the capital or perhaps from local demonstrations, which this year have been ample. These organisations or movements are not alone though. There are many others, including splintered and fractured offshoots of the previously named. Chances are if you’ve seen a crowd with an energetic and passionate cause, then New Exit Group (NEG) have been somewhere inside it, searching for the heart of the story. And if you’ve seen NEG member David Babaian wandering about Westgate, you will have seen him with a camera around his neck,
or in his hand. He is the epitome of his role. When asked why he doesn’t ever leave the house without his camera, his response, half in jest, was, “Well, you never know when the meteorite is going to hit.” Thankfully that meteorite hasn’t hit Thanet as of yet. Just as well really, as David has been extremely busy. David and fellow members, Andrew Blowers, Sagar Kharecha and Simon King, began working collectively as NEG in 2019 with the intention of documenting British social issues. In January they documented the community that formed around the Brexit cause, as well as some of the impacts and changes it would bring about. The four photographers came together with shared values to document what they saw as an agedefining issue, but it became apparent in March that a more urgent story demanded their attention. In light of the events that have occurred since that January deadline, Brexit seems a mere flash in the pan, as David put it, “a footnote in the history books. A matter of months ago Brexit was an overbearing source of social divide in the UK, and it has now been all but forgotten.” Adapting to the rapidly and ever-changing social climate, and in light of the pandemic which contributed towards the factors which made the summer of 2020 one for the history books, NEG shifted their attention on to some of the details which truly affect and shape lives in this time when not even a breath of fresh air can be taken for granted. NEG hoped to capture something of our present lives in the images
BLM marched onwards from the US Embassy through Vauxhall Bridge Road. Anticipating their arrival, a member of the public in quarantine blasted music and raised fist in solidarity. Sunday 7 June 2020.
they produced over this past summer, and have published these in their ’zine titled BARDO: Summer of ’20. The photographers, including local Westgate sprusado David Babaian, worked relentlessly from April to August to produce photographic testimony of this state of limbo that we all struggled through from the start of 2020. BARDO represents a culmination of their efforts to capture this state between states. All four members of the group use old-school 35mm film cameras, loaded primarily with black-andwhite film, documenting everything from violent protests to peaceful religious ceremonies, all the time seeking out different aspects of communities through interest groups and individuals with stories to tell. Collating this ’zine, the group made a decision that the focus was going to be purely on the summer we’ve just endured - not just on protests and pandemics, but on some of the more intimate and personal encounters they’d experienced. The passion and pride in what they’ve achieved is apparent; but this
isn’t an ego-massaging hobby. David shared: “This project has come at massive cost and I don’t just mean financially. We’ve given up every spare minute we’ve had to make these pictures and turn them into a piece of history (whether it’s one we’ll want to remember or not). It certainly hasn’t been easy: it has come with big sacrifice. We’ve all risked our own personal relationships, safety, health and liberty.” David and his colleagues have, on several occasions, almost gotten themselves arrested in the heat of protests. Some were threatened at knifepoint, and all risked their health at anti-mask protests. All in all, over 400 photographs were considered for inclusion, but ultimately just under 90 made it into the final ’zine. When I asked him why they took these risks, David’s answer was simple: “Because this is important. This is history… Our history and our futures. This needs to be documented. Of course there are other people out there who are also documenting it - people uploading photos from their phones to social media, press photographers on the scene taking shots to sell to news
agencies to support a story etc. We’re not doing any of that, we’re trying to show things as they truly are.” The group, like anyone who follows David Attenborough on Instagram, are concerned for the present, and the future it may bring. While you may find Sir David on the social networks these days, you won’t find any of NEG’s images from this ’zine - only a few teasers and a behind the scenes look at their process. The decision to shoot on film was a conscious one, not only as a respectful nod to the golden era of photography, but informed by the group’s strong belief that film best captures the truth. David said: “Film is a true record. The negatives can sit alongside the images to almost attest to their authenticity. They have not been manipulated to make them into something that they’re not… This is something we’re all going through and it shouldn’t be forgotten. Where we go from here is what matters.” If you agree and you fancy owning this historic ’zine, then head to the link below. newexitgroup.com/print
~ M A R G AT E ~
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Georgian Brickwork is a Thanet based team of bricklayers who specialise in the restoration and conservation of brick built period and listed properties. The team are highly skilled in repairing heritage brickwork, including lime pointing, tuck pointing, gauged arches, and carved brickwork. Sensitive repairs to a gauged arch: Before and After
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Grand union Writer Jim Biddulph Photographer Oliver Goodrich
Built to mimic London’s finest Georgian houses, Union Crescent is one of Margate’s architectural treasures. We meet a couple restoring one of its historic homes with meticulous care
he area just south of Margate’s Old Town possesses a sense of grandeur. The buildings on Cecil Square, Hawley Square and Union Crescent in particular have a charm and stateliness that goes beyond the fact that they stand four and five storeys tall. Strolling these streets is quite literally like taking steps through history - architecturally at least. The sense of familiarity evoked by the Georgian properties that form these streets stems perhaps from the fact that their style was directly borrowed from some of the most prestigious squares in London. Take Union Crescent, originally built in 1788 at the behest of local solicitor Jacob Sawkins, who had bought the land from a consortium led by Henry Hawley. The houses were based on those of Bloomsbury Square in London’s Holborn. With distinctive Coade stone arches around the front doors, the buildings were initially intended for use as holiday homes by the discerning aristocracy, and for the next thirty or forty years this was largely the case. However, with the arrival of the trains to Margate, bringing with them gaggles of daytrippers from London’s East End, the aristocratic visitors transferred their favours to the Victorian villas of Cliftonville and Westbrook. Fast-forward to 2016 and a very different story on Union Crescent.
As with so much of the town, the vast majority of the properties had been subdivided into individual flats, with only two on the street remaining as five-storey townhouses with the original layouts. When one of those properties, number 7, went up for sale, viewers were faced with a rotten and collapsed roof gully on the top floor, crumbling bricks, and almost no original features remaining within. But that didn’t deter David Jones and Tam Hoang. They saw through all the structural damage and layers of gypsum plasterboard and lino floors, recognising the unique nature of the building and its rich Georgian history. Four years on, their passion for the project and unrelenting hard work has finally paid off, although not without its challenges. One of the first jobs was to make the building safe and watertight. Enter local firm G&W Gardner Building Contractors Ltd, who over a considerable period of time carefully fitted a steel support in the basement, a flitch beam to support the crumpled roof beam and pinned the skin of the house to the joists. Next up was restoring the house’s numerous sash windows. Having been left for the best part of a year with great gaps between window frames by the first fitters, the building was finally made water and airtight by sash window specialists Ventrolla.
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PROPERTY & INTERIORS
Aside from shoring up the structure of the building itself, one of the biggest jobs has been to bring the interior back to its former glory. As it turned out, it’s here that David and Tam formed the perfect team. A career as a financial controller in film and television has given David an eye for detail, which is matched by his keen interest in history. And while Tam had spent the best part of his career running Vietnamese restaurants in London and Margate, through necessity he became an integral craftsman on the project. With David’s insight, the pair knew that the house would have originally had limeplastered walls, and with a little heavyhanded excavation of overlaid gypsum plasterboards by the first builders on site, this was confirmed. Given that lime plastering is now a fairly rare and specialist process, not to mention the sheer area of walls to renovate, the quotes to carry out the work were eye-watering. So, knowing that he was fairly handy, Tam decided he’d learn how to do it himself. The ambition of this decision is inspiring, as is the finish he achieved, which is made all the more impressive by the sensitive selection of pigments added to colour the walls of each space.
This eye for detail and sympathetic understanding of the Georgian style has led to the reinstalling of cornicing and fitting of fireplaces throughout the building, which is perhaps most impressive in the opulent living and adjoining dining room on the first floor. What’s more, even the furniture is in keeping, with a number of finds made in local antique shops. But it’s not only the inside that has been transformed. Outside, the brickwork has been restored with the same level of scrutiny by Ramsgate’s Georgian Brickwork, who have repointed the front and back of the building. The metal railings at the front of the building have been reinstated by Nailbourne Forge Ltd of Canterbury. This authentic finishing touch was achieved partly thanks to the foresight of those who removed and melted down the original railings during the war, leaving just one set remaining for future generations to take casts from. It’s that level and detail and sensitivity to the history of the area, along with a huge amount of sweat, blood and tears that makes 7 Union Crescent what it is today a beautifully restored, authentic Georgian property.
A walk around Herne Bay Images courtesy of Visit Herne Bay
Margate resident Bryony Bishop reveals the timeless allure of her hometown
rom Margate’s glorious golden mile, Reculver Towers loom in the distance, beckoning the curious to venture along the Viking Coastal Trail, usually by bike, to discover why, when and how these imposing 12th century towers came to be. It’s a journey well travelled by Thanetians, the calming, beautiful stretch of sandy Blue Flag bays - Westbrook Bay, West Bay, and Minnis Bay - providing a beautiful backdrop before arriving at Reculver, in approximately an hour (8.5 miles/14km). After the mysteries of the now remnant Saxon monastery and Roman fort are revealed, the adventure continues. For beyond
the towers lies another historic and timeless place: Herne Bay. Evolving from the Old English hyrne, “Herne” means corner. This northeast Kent bay, my hometown, sits on the cusp of the land between Reculver and Whitstable. Travelling along the Oyster Bay Trail on trafficfree cycle paths for a further five miles (8km), you’ll reach Herne Bay’s seafront, passing the King’s Hall. Nestled in the East Cliff, this architectural gem has been entertaining visitors since 1913 with music and dancing, and in the 1970s even hosted professional wrestling. (It’s also where I went to my first nonschool disco and had my first kiss!) Along the seafront, the world’s first freestanding purpose-built clocktower, now an iconic Herne Bay landmark, signifies your arrival in the town. Taking in the panoramic view, the town’s two miles (3km) of shingle beach stretch before you, making for an invigorating change to Thanet’s
A view of Herne Bay Clock Tower, Jubilee Fountain and Pier in the 1900s
soft sand. The Victorian bandstand and gardens invite you to take a wander, grabbing an ice cream or coffee from the café as you go. Out to sea, the pier that has become a memorial to seaside tourism of yesteryear, looks onto the town that has both changed and stayed the same. As a child I was fascinated by this haunting relic. I still find piers intriguing, often wishing they still existed in our seaside towns, and that nature and the lure of foreign travel hadn’t destroyed their charm. Herne Bay once boasted the second-longest pier in the UK, after Southend, until in 1978 a storm decimated it. In the 1990s I roller-skated my way around the end of the pier in the then sports pavilion. Now a helter-skelter, colourful crafts and food huts form a parade of pleasures for you to enjoy along this part of the promenade, before you pit those pennies against the arcade machines in the perennial beachfront favourite, the amusements. Intriguing and inspiring Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian architecture catches your eye as you stroll further along this stretch of seafront. See if you can spot the beguiling off-shore second world war sea fort, Red Sands, once home to the first-ever pirate radio station in the 1960s. After history-seeking, stop off for a bite at A La Turka mediterranean restaurant
before heading inland along William Street. Here the Seaside Museum, lovingly run by volunteers, presents a rolling programme of exhibitions and permanent historical artefacts. Shopping is a totally different experience at the moment, but you can start your Covid-safe browse-andbuy in the Bay here, by picking up some brilliant, locally made items. Up ahead on Mortimer Street, you can see more local talent at artist Jo Oakley’s She Rose gallery, shop and workspace. Antique-lovers will delight in a peek around Mustard Interiors, an eclectic shop filled with stunning wallcoverings and furnishings. If you’re one of the Isle’s many dog lovers, the Dog House by the Sea has an array of accessories and quirky jumpers to treat your pooch. If you’re more of a cat person, Herne Bay boasts Kent’s first Cosy Cat Café on William Street. Time travel is very Herne Bay, not only because BBC scriptwriter Anthony Coburn, who lived in the resort, was one of the people who conceived the idea of a police box as a time machine for Doctor Who, but also because you can quite literally step back in time. Wander down the High Street to the vintage Empire Tearoom and order an ‘Amy Johnson’ afternoon tea for a taste sensation with historic links to the Bay. A perusal of the Bay Emporium - floor
Know before you go
Bike hire from Margate
Please check all opening days and times before visiting, as these vary due to Covid-19 guidelines.
Harbour Bikes Cycle Hire Arch 20, Military Road, Ramsgate 07834 377907 | harbourbikes.co.uk
Viking Coastal Trail visitthanet.co.uk/ attractions/viking-coastal-trail
Ride The Bike Shed 71 Canterbury Road, Margate, 01843 228866 | 07775 609245 thebikeshedkent.co.uk
Check out the Bay canterbury.co.uk/info/38/ herne_bay
VCT Bike Hire The Parade, Minnis Bay 01843 843309 | 07818 828862
to ceiling mid-century homeware and furniture - will take you back to your grandmother’s kitchen/living/ bathroom, which you now rejoice in reimagining for your own home. Your temptation will be tested. For something to bring you back to now, venture inside the Bay’s rich range of shops such as Heart & Soul, Heavenly Home, Ivy May Fashion and Home, La Luna and Rogers Menswear in the centre of town. Sharing just how much our loved ones mean to us feels ever more important in these most challenging of times, and a thousand words can be said with a thoughtful gift, which you’ll most definitely find here. Then be good to yourself with a nourishing drink or bite at the 100% plant-based Wallflower Café on the High Street. Just around the corner on Beach Street close to the Kavanagh Cinema, Beach Creative showcases local artists and holds activities for anyone to try their hand at. This caring community centre also offers a pick-me-up ‘little pep juice’ to enhance your wellbeing - something we all need right now. If you’re planning to linger longer for dinner, A Casa Mia brings Naples’ finest pizza to the seaside, or try Kent Life Pub of the Year the Four Fathoms for hearty British cuisine - both on the High Street. When you’re ready for home, a refreshing walk just out
from the town centre takes you to the train station, which, alongside the building of the pier and promenade, heralded Herne Bay’s golden era in the late 1800s, as Londoners and the like came down for a bonnie day out at the seaside. It was this mass tourism gateway that led to the Bay’s popularity as a holiday destination, developing it from a small shipping community to a sprawling resort. Since Whitstable’s ascent as a 21st century seaside magnet, neighbouring Herne Bay’s beam may on appearance seem less radiant. But my hometown still shines brightly, proudly fusing the traditional with the contemporary, bubbling with energy, creativity, variety and a glorious historic pride that is well worth spending time exploring. Bryony’s love of the coast began as a child growing up in Herne Bay. Having moved around in adulthood, she returned to the sea in 2010, settling in Margate on its rebirth as a cultural destination. Passionate about promoting Thanet and Kent’s unique coastline, she works closely with arts and tourism projects and with Visit Thanet tourism office. Bryony is also the founder of Bee’s Bookshare, which brings people together through a shared love of books and reading.
The long walk home Writer & Photographer Dominic Rose
ockdown. One hour of outdoor activity a day. Torn between following government advice on exercise allowances and government advice on using common sense, I ventured out into a deserted Thanet. I was never stopped but I had my answer prepared: “Just doing a bit of art, officer.” After all, this was part of my working day. I started criss-crossing Thanet by bike and on foot. Walking, observing, recording. I was quickly reminded how connected the thought process is with walking. “Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains,” writes essayist Rebecca Solnit. To wander, to ramble, to divert… all can be equally applied to walking or thinking. One theory suggests that by increasing blood circulation to the brain, walking improves our thought process and creativity. I decided to make a pilgrimage along the Thames, the river that spawned the capital city and to which Margate is inextricably connected. Before the railways, it was river traffic from London which established Margate as a destination. River traffic has been passing Margate on its way to London for thousands of years, though now the container ships only go as far as Tilbury Docks or London Gateway, some 30 miles downriver from the Pool of London. London has expanded to almost the full length of the river. Driving, you barely see anything of the Thames or its estuary. The train offers tantalising snap shots of the route, but nothing more. High speed travel is no way to appreciate a landscape. This walk would trace the vagaries of the shoreline. I began my walk from London to Margate at Blackfriars at noon on 23 July 2020. Walking the Thames gives you a unique experience of London. It slices through the capital, providing you with a cross section of history. The river had been central to the prosperity of London until, late in the 20th century, the docks and wharves nearest the city were abandoned. The decline slowly radiated outwards. Regeneration projects and housing development eventually followed in its wake. Industry was pushed further and further out on to land that was once an integral part of the river’s ecological systems.
Inspired by lockdown wanderings, one Margate artist decided to walk the river from London to Margate. Here he retraces his steps and explains why clarity comes at three miles per hour
Cast concrete pillbox on the shore at All Hallows on the Hoo Peninsula with Southend in the distance
First sight of the QEII bridge at Erith. The decline of the importance of the Thames is quite visible at Erith, the M25 has replaced the river as the hub of commercial activity
The River Thames nevertheless remains beautiful. Its tranquility seems absurd as it winds between the building sites, the towers of the financial district, the disreputable heavy industries and the motorways. For centuries the Thames evaded our control. It grew and shrank with tides and with the seasons. Islands formed, shores eroded. Slowly we drained marshes and built riverbanks, fixing its course. Now it is London that is amorphous and out of control. I kept expecting it to end. First at the docks, then perhaps the Thames Barrier. It showed no signs of abating as I passed under the Dartford crossing. If anything the London Orbital attracted more industry, the kind we prefer not to see, or smell. At Gravesend, a vast park of shipping containers provides London with storage capacity. The gravel and cement works, crucial to the seeming endless construction boom, line the Thames for over 30 miles as far as the Hoo Peninsula. After six days of walking in several stages I reached the Isle of Grain, the point which marks the end of the Thames and the beginning of the estuary. The shoreline is scattered with old jetties, disused wharves, boatyards and other assorted remnants of the working river. Even the military have vacated their defences - I came across decommissioned forts at Gravesend, Shornemead, Cliffe, All Hallows, Grain and Hoo Marina. Walking simultaneously connects us with the landscape and challenges our embedded patterns of behaviour. There is a clarity of thought at three miles per hour. Walking is also a dissident act, a challenge to authority and consumerist orthodoxy. Its slow gratification is at odds with the immediacy of nearly every aspect of life. A walk draws us away from the technologies on which we have become dependent, away from commerce and consumption. The next leg of my journey takes me across the Medway and along the estuary. I expect to have reached Margate in a further five stages by late autumn. Still constrained by the increasing proportion of land which is privately owned and in many cases patrolled, it is important to keep retreading those paths. For further information on this project and photographs taken along the walk please visit dominic-rose.com
L O V E
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Underground explorers can experience the mysterious wonders of the Margate Caves on Fridays to Sundays throughout the winter season, as well as enjoy our lovely cafe and gift shop. Check our website for opening hours and special events including visits from Father Christmas in December. Website: margatecaves.co.uk Email: email@example.com
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space in Margate Old Town, specializing in a broad range of weekly exhibitions. For current exhibitors and for details on hiring the space at competitive rates, please check our website or social media. Instagram: @piefactorymargate Facebook: Pie Factory Margate Website: piefactorymargate.co.uk
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currently closed with our exciting space opening again in 2021 for our 10th Anniversary Year. Whilst the gallery is closed explore virtual tours and digital artworks, mindfulness activities, online workshops for families at home and unique artist products in our online shop. turnercontemporary.org Instagram & Facebook: @turnercontemporary Twitter: @TCMargate
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