In The Offing
First Floor Galleries
A group exhibition edited by and featuring Mark Leckey.
“Dreamland sits at one end of Margate’s seafront; its other terminus is Turner Contemporary. I wanted to locate the show in the midst of these two destinations: somewhere between an attraction and an exhibition, looking out towards the horizon to see what’s coming. I found the original meaning of the show’s title in The Cloud as I stood on Margate Main Sands. Phone in hand, my eyes scanning the body of water for where the distant moves ever closer.
The offing is where the sea meets the land and the sky, Margate is where the contemporary meets the nostalgic, and music is where the popular meets the esoteric. Most of the artists in the show are musicians: ANGUSRAZE, Blackhaine, Lucy Duncombe, Ashley Holmes + Seekersinternational, Iceboy Violet; or artists for whom music and sound are central to their practice; Theo Ellison, nakaya mossi, Charlie Osborne and Hannah Rose Stewart. The offing corresponds to the digital space these artists all work in. Both exist somewhere between two realms. And both ask the question: What is coming?
In my work I have always looked towards Walter Pater’s quote “all art constantly aspires to the condition of music.” I have been presenting a radio show on NTS for the past seven years, compiling and programming an hour-long mix every month. I wondered how this format would work with video and sound choreographed in the spaces of a gallery. When planning the exhibition’s structure I likened it to an amusement park Dark Ride, travelling through a loop of changing videos, sounds and lights, with a start and end point that gets repeated throughout the day. Connected to the Dark Ride is a light space exhibiting paintings by Alessandro Raho, who uses the old technology of oil paint to portray the now. Similarly, airbrush artist Darren Horton’s mural captures the seaside legacy of depicting future or hyper-modern fantasies. Tracey Williams’ Lost at Sea Project documents synthetic creatures brought to shore with the tide. A consequence that will abide for a thousand years.
I’m not a curator, so I thought I’d imagine myself as a magazine editor. A Guest Editor at Turner Contemporary. The offing, but also the horizon, the sea and seaside towns were the editorial themes to which the artists could respond however they liked – the only parameter being a time limit of six minutes. The titles of their works alone suggest how they responded: Old Town, Fata Morgana*, Miasma, even volvic.”
*A Fata Morgana, from the Arthurian legend of Morgan the Fairy, is a mirage seen on the horizon that significantly distorts the object on which it is based.
Turner Contemporary presented In The Offing, a group exhibition devised by renowned Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey (b. 1964, Birkenhead). Embracing a dual role in this exhibition, Leckey served as both artist and editor, utilising the concept of a magazine editorial as his foundation to choreograph an experience that seamlessly blended moving image, sound, light, and painting throughout the galleries. The phrase ‘in the offing’, dating back to the late 1700s, evokes the image of the distant sea visible from the shoreline and carries a sense of anticipation and foreboding, hinting at what lies on the horizon. Leckey commissioned artists and musicians to make work responding to this title and himself presented a new video. The exhibition was the culmination of a multi-year project generously funded by Freelands Foundation as the Principal Supporter.
Since the late 1990s, Leckey’s influential practice has explored the relationship between popular culture and technology, and ideas around youth, class and nostalgia. Over the past six years Leckey has hosted a programme on NTS Radio presenting experimental music by emerging and established artists, several of whom will be featured in the exhibition alongside visual artists. The commissions encompass themes of the horizon, the seaside, the past and the future, and resonate with the wider social and political context of British coastal towns. Also inspired by Dreamland – the amusement park and music venue on Margate seafront – Leckey’s immersive approach in programming moving image, sound and light to appear and flow throughout the exhibition spaces, gave visitors the experience of both a gallery and fairground attraction.
Participating artists included ANGUSRAZE, Lucy Duncombe, Theo Ellison, Ashley Holmes + Seekersinternational, Darren Horton, Mark Leckey, Lost at Sea Project, nakaya mossi, Charlie Osborne, Alessandro Raho, Hannah Rose Stewart + Blackhaine, and Iceboy Violet.
The exhibition was curated with Melissa Blanchflower, Senior Curator, Turner Contemporary and was accompanied by a live programme.
Clore Learning Studio
Over the course of two years, the Emerging Producers worked with Turner Contemporary to help research, develop and deliver a series of programmes. For In The Offing the group worked alongside the gallery’s Learning team to re-design the Clore Learning Studio space to create a hub for creativity, designed for young people of all ages to relax, reflect and experiment. This Creative Estuary Co-commission takes the form of a playfully designed space which takes inspiration from faded seaside resorts with a contemporary twist. During the autumn 2023 season, the space hosted art workshops and the Children’s Art Library during the day, turning into a music venue for emerging local talent on selected evenings, also programmed by the group.
The Emerging Producers were: Oliver Castle, Layla Crick, Oliver Fisher, Daniella Jasper, Miroslava Karaskova, Eridanus Kyren, Philippa Raye and Stuart Rayner, led by Jennifer Scott, Learning & Engagement Manager at Turner Contemporary.
Arts Education Exchange Music and Video Lab
Following on from Leckey’s Music and Video Lab run with CAST, Cornwall, in summer 2022, Turner Contemporary has partnered with Arts Education Exchange to deliver a Lab in Margate. The initiative is designed to create a space for experimentation and discovery through video editing, music production and digital media for young people aged between 18 and 25 years. The short course will run during In The Offing and in collaboration with AEE Tonetic Records, a youth-led record label, introducing musicians and industry professionals to young people and providing mentoring and masterclasses. Outcomes of the Music and Video Lab will be showcased via NTS Radio and at Turner Contemporary.
As part of In The Offing, Leckey conceived and hosted Salamagundy ‘22 in December 2022 – a Variety Show which brought an eclectic line-up of artists to Dreamland’s iconic Roller Room to explore ideas around modern entertainment and contemporary art practice. The event was a Creative Estuary Co-commission, delivered by the Emerging Producers, a group of eight local young people, selected as part of Creative Estuary’s Re:Generation 2031 programme which provides employment and skills development in the creative industry.