10 years after appearing in the gallerys opening exhibition Revealed, artist Ellen Harvey returns to Turner Contemporary
opening the anniversary programme with her first UK solo show The Tourists, an exhibition paired with works by JMW Turner. The gallery is also presenting Ashes by Turner Prize and Academy Award winning artist Steve McQueen, a double video projection telling the story of a young Caribbean man known by this name. The exhibitions mark the reopening of the gallery following the easing of restrictions and the gallerys capital works.
The Tourists explores themes of tourism and ecology, our relationship to images, architecture and place, destruction and loss. Working in painting, sculpture and digital media, this exhibition brings together a group of Harveys large-scale installations comprised of meticulously rendered paintings and engravings. The centre-piece to the show is a new work called The Disappointed Tourist, comprising over 200 paintings of sites that have disappeared. From the Temple of Bel in Syria to Brandy Bucks restaurant in Margate, Harvey has crowd sourced places from across the world. Embarking on this work before the Covidcrisis, it has developed an unexpected resonance. As Harvey says, After a year where weve all been disappointed tourists, it feels like a good time to explore what it is that we really love about our world and to think about how we can tread more lightly on the beauties that we have all longed to visit.
Harvey has selected two groups of works by JMW Turner, which resonate with her own explorations into imagemaking, experience and place. They focus on two very different tourist destinations: the ancient ruins of Italy, which Turner longed to visit from a young age, and Margate, which captured his imagination in his later years. Harvey has had a long interest in JMW Turner and Margate, and in 2011 she created Arcadia in response to Turners relationship with Margate for Turner Contemporarys opening show Revealed.
Ashes (2002-2015) is a two-channel video installation by artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen. It is composed of footage filmed by McQueen over ten years, on two separate visits to the Caribbean island of Grenada a former French and British colony that achieved independence in 1974. On one side of a screen we see a film portrait of the films eponymous subject, young and handsome, standing on the prow of a boat. The other side shows the building of Ashes' tomb after he has been murdered by drug dealers on the island. Life, death, despair and hope are presented by McQueen in this perfectly crafted elegy.
These exhibitions form part of a wider programme as part of Turner Contemporarys 10th Anniversary Year. Further highlights include: The Turner Contemporary Open 2021 due to take place later in the year; a joint commission by Anne Ryan and Sophie Von Hellerman; and a number of commissions/newly commissioned artworks beyond the gallery walls. Off-site/public realm commissions include Michael Rakowitzs April is the Cruellest Month in Margate for Waterfronts as part of Englands Creative Coast; a new commission by Yinka Illori in Kings Hill and new sculptural work by Conrad Shawcross, commissioned by 60 local primary school children, in Ramsgate.