Queen’s visit to Margate’s new gallery the Turner Contemporary nearly marred by royal gaffs
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has paid a visit to Margate’s Turner Contemporary Gallery, where she met with gallery Director Victoria Pomery, Chair John Kampfner along with other key members of staff. She was then given a gallery tour, on which she was introduced to star guests – Deputy Director of Tate Alex Beard, artist Tracey Emin, and architect Sir David Chipperfield.
Amusingly, the Queen appeared to have never heard of world famous YBA Tracey Emin, asking her whether she exhibited ‘internationally as well as in Margate?’ Prince Philip similarly put his foot in it, apparently being overheard saying, ‘I shudder to think what’s in the gallery’, after being shown a collage of work by children inspired by the art on show.
But all this could not mar(gate) the occasion. The Queen is only the latest visitor to a new gallery that has welcomed a massive 300,000 visitors in its first seven months – double the amount expected for the whole year! As Director of Turner Contemporary, Victoria Pomery described; ‘We have had a fantastic response from our visitors, who have travelled from far and wide to Margate to experience the gallery and the art we have on display for free here’.
The occasion for the Queen’s visit was to recognise the impact of the Turner Contemporary in the local community, through programs such as Artworks, Blank Canvas, Cultural Ambassadors, The Great Art Quest, Generate and Art of Sound, and Youth Navigators. Specifically, she met with the local winners of the Page Turner competition (whose works now hang in the Turner Contemporary gallery), as well as pupils from Northdown Primary School and Hartsdown Technology College who have taken part in the gallery’s Clore Learning Studio.
For the Director of Turner Contemporary, Victoria Pomery, this represented the culmination of her work in Margate, explaining; ‘We know the positive benefits we have already brought to the local economy, and I am delighted that The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have been able to witness this impact for themselves.’
But, of course, this visit was not all about good works, but also, in the words of John Kampfner (Chair of Turner Contemporary), ‘confirms our [the gallery’s] status as a leader in our field and a gallery of international status’. For these dual reasons, ‘The visit of The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh is a moment to celebrate for Turner Contemporary and the town’, he added.
Tracey Emin similarly highlights the twin importance of the Queen’s visit – that it puts ‘Margate’s on the map again’, and also represents ‘a major acknowledgement for British contemporary art’.
During the visit, Her Majesty unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion.