Turner Contemporary to host Open exhibition as part of 10th anniversary programme

Posted in – ExhibitionNews

Over 10 years on from Turner Contemporary’s first Open, and in celebration of the gallery’s 10th anniversary, Turner Contemporary is pleased to present The Turner Contemporary Open.

This ambitious exhibition will celebrate and showcase the wealth of artistic talent in Kent and Medway. It will include works by both professional and non-professional artists living and working in the area and those working nationally and internationally who studied there.

Opening on 23 October 2021 and spanning Turner Contemporary’s first floor galleries, the exhibition will include approximately 450 works, selected from over 4,200 anonymised submissions received from nearly 1,400 artists.

Artworks span sculpture, painting, ceramics, film and photography, including work by internationally renowned artists such as Tracey Emin, Rose Wylie and Margo Selby, alongside up-and-coming artists such as Matilda Sutton, Joshua Atkins and Lisa Wright.

The works have been selected by four Thanet-based community groups and collectives: Age UK Thanet, Canvas 4 Equality, Margate Pride and the Turner Contemporary Access Group. These groups have volunteered their time as curators with the support of Turner Contemporary. Each group has taken over a gallery space, in which they have curated their selection of artworks.

Due to the pandemic, much of the selection process took place virtually and through lockdowns. The complexities of curating remotely meant that the groups experimented with online tools and creative exercises to work collaboratively. Some sessions were facilitated by artists and curators Tai Shani, Deborah Smith, and Trish Scott, who offered their support to help the groups to develop themes and ideas.

Since opening in April 2011, Turner Contemporary has established itself as a locally embedded, nationally significant art gallery connecting art, people and place. As well as drawing national and international artists to work, collaborate and exhibit in the town, a key part of the gallery’s mission is to champion creativity in Margate and Kent. The Turner Contemporary Open demonstrates this commitment and continues the gallery’s pioneering work in community curation.

The first Turner Open took place in 2009-10 in the Turner Contemporary Project Space – a former M&S store on Margate High Street, established to give the local community and artists a taste of what was to come. Turner Contemporary Open artists also featured in this original Open exhibition: Carole Andrews, Dan Bass, Mary Butcher, Roy Eastland, Hannah Lees, Nicole Mollett, Leise Wilson and Rose Wylie.

The exhibition runs from 23 October 2021 – 20 February 2022. During this period Turner Contemporary are also partnering with Southeastern Railway to show images of many of the artworks at stations across Thanet.

Age UK Thanet say: We are not the stereotypical group that everyone assumes we are. Each generation faces unique challenges and opportunities. We want to show that our journey is far from ‘grey’; lives lived are full of resilience, wisdom, humour, and adventure! We wanted to share our individual perspectives and create an exhibition that champions the colour throughout one’s life.

This curatorial process has been exciting, and not to mention, priceless. As a group, our confidence has been built, we’ve learnt new skills and each of us have contributed in the best way we can. We may not be specialists, but we feel this process has proved that together we can achieve great things.

Canvas 4 Equality say: “Our core values as a collective have guided our selection. We have selected work that resonates with our own lived experiences, that feel connected with Thanet and Kent and the existence of marginalised people in these spaces. We are so excited for people to view our selection: we hope it disrupts, inspires and holds close the people wandering through the gallery space.

Margate Pride say: Margate Pride celebrates the other, and through our selection process we sought out the queer and alternative: imagery, visions, forms and actions that others may find bizarre and unusual but speak directly to our senses and experiences of life. Of boundaries and borders being challenged, of movement, migration and alienation, dissociation and comradery, representation and visibility.

Throughout the challenging process of making our selection from over 4,000 submissions, our team has worked cohesively given our shared passion for Margate Pride; vision of our Pride as an arts-led protest; a celebration of the alternative; and drive to make visible the possibilities of chosen family and community.

Turner Contemporary Access Group say: For years, Turner Contemporary Access Group members have worked as volunteers to make sure as many people as possible can enjoy visiting the gallery and experience the work it shows, and the Turner Contemporary Open 2021 is a great expression of that philosophy. It opens the doors to everyone and brings together a broad and diverse collection of work by artists across Kent. We’re pleased to have been a part of curating an exhibition which is built on the principles we champion.

Press images are available here.

Additional Information

Please note that Turner Contemporary will be closed between 27 September and 22 October for the installation of The Turner Contemporary Open. During this time there will be no public access to Turner Contemporary.

Notes to Editors

Age UK Thanet

Age UK Thanet is a local registered charity delivering a comprehensive range of services throughout the Thanet area. The services provided help to maintain independence and enablement at home, informed choice, reduce loneliness and isolation, promote physical and mental wellbeing, looking at individuals in a holistic way.

  • We want our services to enable people to enjoy every stage of their life from the age of 50.
  • We aim to give individuals choice and fulfilled days, so that they feel positive and can face any barriers that arise on any day.
  • Before the pandemic we provided warm and welcoming Community Hubs in the Thanet area in partnership with statutory and voluntary organisations and hope to continue to deliver this again
  • We wish to alleviate the suffering of any individual who is in a difficult financial position, however we can, whether through signposting to relevant services or welfare funds, when available.


Canvas 4 Equality 

We are a group of young women, of mixed ethnicities and sexualities, from Thanet and Canterbury. We want to spread awareness about social inequalities from an intersectional perspective, firmly rooted in our lived experience. Through our online platform and live events, we aim to curate a space for artistic responses to local, and global, inequality; we want to provide hope as well as feasible solutions to a better society. Our aim is not perfection, but action. We are singers, illustrators, poets, medicine and stem students, sisters, daughters, students, pint pullers, but mainly we are a community. This is a movement, not a moment.


Margate Pride

Margate Pride CIC is an arts-led pride, a celebration of LGBTQIA+ life and a platform to continue the fight for equality and to challenge prejudice.


Turner Contemporary Access Group

The Access Group is made up of activists who want to make the experience of moving through the world easier for everyone, who give their time to help Turner Contemporary design their exhibitions with this in mind. By being slow and gentle, by listening and taking care, and by being very aware of the space we all occupy, a group of people who experience the world in different ways are able to work together. The work chosen reflects this in soul and practice: a selection that celebrates craft, time, and skill, and is rooted in the local place.

Turner Contemporary

Key information about Turner Contemporary drawn from research conducted by Canterbury Christ Church University’s Business School.

Since Turner Contemporary opened in 2011, it has:

  1. Received almost 3.6 million visits, far exceeding initial projections of 150,000 per year.
  2. Exhibited the work of over 2000 artists, including historical (JMW Turner, William Blake, John Constable, Auguste Rodin, Leonardo da Vinci, Anna Atkins), 20th century (Helen Frankenthaler, Henry Moore, Patrick Heron) and contemporary (John Akomfrah, Michael Armitage, Phyllida Barlow, Rose Wylie, Ai Weiwei), early-career graduates and local artists
  3. Put over £70 million back into the local economy through the creation of jobs, its collaborations with Thanet and Kent based suppliers, and visitors to the area contributing secondary spend to other businesses
  4. Welcomed visits from audiences who had never been to an art gallery in their lives before going to Turner Contemporary (6% of the gallery’s total audience).
  5. Hosted Turner Prize 2019 which was the second most visited Turner Prize in the exhibition’s 35-year history. It received 141,550 visits making it the gallery’s most popular autumn exhibition ever. 33% of survey respondents visiting Margate, who attended the Turner Prize 2019 exhibition, stayed overnight in the area during the traditional off-season. 26% of visits were from Thanet residents.
  6. Inspired recommendations to visit Margate, with 84% of visitors being likely to recommend a trip to a friend; it is estimated that 1.2million visitors have recommended a trip to Margate after visiting Turner Contemporary.
  7. Attracted visitors to the gallery from 48 different countries around the world; including France, New Zealand, Portugal, Iceland, Malaysia and more.
  8. Contributed significant social value for visitors to the gallery; with research demonstrating that the gallery delivers benefits to educational attainment, community cohesion and connectedness, self belief and inspiration.
  9. Worked with over 100,000 local children and young people to offer them access to learning opportunities, exhibitions and artists.
  10. Been the first contemporary building to feature on a UK banknote; in 2020 the gallery featured on the new £20 Polymer banknote.


Social Value

Research conducted by Canterbury Christ Church University’s Business School (Social Value Report, October 2016) shows that since Turner Contemporary opened in 2011 it has created considerable social and economic impact in Margate, with the research demonstrating that the gallery delivers benefits to educational attainment, community cohesion and connectedness, self-belief and inspiration.

  • For every £1 invested by Turner Contemporary in our exhibitions, £2.88 of net social value is created for visitors to the gallery.
  • For every £1 invested by Turner Contemporary in our Lifelong Learning activities, £4.09 of net social value is created for participants.
  • For every £1 invested by Turner Contemporary in our Formal Education programme, £5.15 of net social value is created for participants.