Show image caption Image: John Sainsbury

Artist Conrad Shawcross has been commissioned by local school children to create a major new art work for Ramsgate Royal Harbour in 2020

Posted in – News

In connection with Turner Contemporary, leading British artist, Conrad Shawcross, has been commissioned to make a new artwork for the Kent town by local primary school children. This will be the culmination of ‘Pioneering Places’, an ambitious multiyear project happening across East Kent to encourage local people to get involved with cultural organisations and shape the place where they live.

The series of works will be lightweight in design and will involve simple, visible mechanics that show gears and cogs and the power of the wind. Involving different colour combinations, the sculptures will be made out of materials such as galvanised steel, stainless steel and powder-coated or anodised aluminium.

Shawcross has completed a number of major public commissions across the world and, as well as being the youngest living member of the Royal Academy of Arts, was one of the first artists to be shown at Turner Contemporary when it opened in 2011. He comments: “I am really excited to be working with the young and brilliant minds of tomorrow to realise a new beacon of friendship and welcome to the Kent coast. The town of Ramsgate started as a port, and now we have a modern opportunity to continue this wonderful relationship to the sea and to arrival. Together we will create a new symbol for Ramsgate, learn some mechanics and the differing ways we used to communicate, and most importantly discover the huge power of cooperation and team work!”

The pupils have been working with Turner Contemporary on the project in the capacity of Young Arts and Heritage Leaders over the past year, learning about the heritage of Ramsgate and recruiting artists and heritage researchers for the project. The shortlisted artists used the children’s research from the first year of the project as a basis for their proposals for the artwork. Among their collaborators are the Turner Prize winning collective Assemble who have been commissioned to create a toolkit which aims to inform planners, decision makers and those in the education and creative sectors about how children can positively contribute to place making.

Victoria Pomery OBE, Director of Turner Contemporary Margate, says: “We are delighted to be leading the Ramsgate arm of Pioneering Places: East Kent; an innovative project that is not only ambitious but puts children at the heart of the process. This way of working will set a new tone and approach to placemaking in Kent and beyond. Shawcross’s work clearly captured the imagination of the Young Arts and Heritage Leaders and we hope it will inspire audiences locally, nationally and internationally. By working with ambitious artists, young people and our community in this unique way, we will gain a deeper understanding of how culture and heritage can inspire each other and bring about positive change.”

A group of Year 7 children from neighbouring Ramsgate Secondary School The Royal Harbour Academy will also be working on a coinciding scheme to document the development and installation of Shawcross’s artwork. Ten pupils from the school, aged between 11 and 12, interviewed and selected a photographer they wanted to work with out of a shortlist in order to document the key events between now and the launch.

The Young Arts and Heritage Leaders announced Shawcross as their chosen artist during a special event to mark the occasion in Ramsgate on 16 October. The artist, musician and writer Marianne Dissard, a resident from Ramsgate, opened the event following a ten day walking tour of East Kent during which she visited Ramsgate and further Pioneering Places partners on the way in Folkestone and Dover. Dissard has passed on communications and gifts between the children from all four projects, allowing them to share their experiences of the scheme.

Marianne Dissard says: “I met the Pioneering Places children when I walked East Kent for my book tour. The children greatly impressed me with their curiosity, initiative and warmth. I was thrilled to learn we share a deep interest for the Ramsgate Harbour. For a couple of years, I lived on board a wooden sailboat moored below the Sailors’ Church, and recorded music in a studio housed on the Harbour. Of all the places I’ve lived in the world, the Ramsgate Harbour is the most unique and inspiring. That this next generation of leaders cares for it as much as I do fills me with joy and hope for its resurgence as a creative and convivial community hub.”

About Pioneering Places: East Kent

Pioneering Places is part of the national Great Place Scheme and is funded by Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Kent County Council, Thanet District Council, Canterbury Christ Church University, Artswork, the South East Bridge organisation, and supported by Historic England. The commission for Ramsgate is one of four projects in East Kent and complemented by others in in Canterbury, Dover and Folkestone, each being led by cultural organisations to encourage local people to shape the place where they live. Pioneering Places East Kent is led by Creative Folkestone.

All the projects are working with Artswork’s South East Bridge on a schools programme that will enable the young people taking part to achieve Arts Award accreditation and the participating schools receive Artsmark status. They will be creating a programme of consultation, activity and artwork commissions at Folkestone Gasworks, Ramsgate Harbour, The Kit in Canterbury, and Fort Burgoyne in Dover, as well as the development of a Research Knowledge Base that brings together research on cultural place-making, commissions articles and gathers and disseminates feedback from the four projects.

About Conrad Shawcross

Conrad Shawcross RA (b. 1977) is a British artist specializing in mechanical sculptures based on philosophical and scientific ideas, which often pay tribute to some of the great pioneers and analysts of our age. His works often appear to be useful, forcing the viewer to consider their purpose or function. Yet they remain illusive, denying any final definition to remain in the realm of the metaphysical and conceptual. Through their failure as systems and models, they succeed as art works, asking questions rather than answering them.

Shawcross has completed a number of major public commissions across the world, including Paradigm outside the Francis Crick Institute at UCL in London and the 18-metre tall Exploded Paradigm inside the atrium of the Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia. He has exhibited at institutions across the world, including Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut, USA, the National Gallery in London, and ARTMIA in Beijing. He is represented by Victoria Miro in London and Tucci Russo in Italy.

About Assemble

Throughout the project, the children have been working with Turner Prize winning collective Assemble who have supported the delivery of school sessions with a framework focusing on research in the built environment. Assemble are currently working on producing a ‘toolkit’ which reflects the methodology used and the learning gained by this process, which will be available for the artist to draw on from October 2019.

About Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary in Margate is one of the most distinctive galleries in the UK; its impact stretches beyond culture-led regeneration and the showcasing of world-class exhibitions, to pioneering change by making the arts more vital and connected to daily life.

Since opening in 2011, Turner Contemporary has:

  • Generated over £70 million for the local economy
  • Led to the opening of over 150 new businesses
  • Safeguarded 155 jobs
  • Attracted over 3 million visits

Turner Contemporary

  • In copy please refer to Turner Contemporary and not ‘The Turner Contemporary’ or ‘The Turner’
  • Summer opening times: Open every day in July and August, 10am – 6pm.
  • Turner Prize 2019 opening times: Open every day, Mon – Fri, 11am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Admission to the gallery is
  • Address: Turner Contemporary, Rendezvous, Margate, CT9 1HG
  • Information: + 44 (0) 1843 233000
  • Turner Contemporary is a charity, receiving public funding from Kent County Council and Arts Council