Werner Zellien


Metaphysical Margate: A Photographic Exhibition

Private View: 28 May 2011, 14 00 – 16 00

Special evening event: Saturday 18 June, 8pm

Open to the public:

28 May, 16 00 – 18 30

29 May, 1100 – 17.00,

Wednesday 1 June – Sunday 5 June, 1100 – 17.00

Wednesday 8 – Sunday 12 June 1100 – 17.00

Thursday 16 – Sunday 19 June 1100 – 17.00


What is the real Margate? Is it the old glories of the famous seaside resort? Is it the new dream of cultural regeneration? Or did we glimpse the real Margate in-between the old and the new?


In 2004 Werner Zellien was commissioned by the architects Snohetta and Spence to provide photographic documentation of the development of their original, controversial proposal for the Turner Contemporary building in Margate. He arrived that winter to take establishing pictures. As the project costs of the proposed building spiralled, Snohetta and Spence's work was cancelled, with Zellien's commission. This left a selection of images of the town's empty spaces, loaded with a sense of what it had been and what it might become.


During the winter months of 2004/05 both the era of the seaside resort and the hope of a burgeoning cultural hub seemed very distant. But, perhaps, the real Margate could be found within the empty streets, the looming dark skies and the barren townscape, when all that was left of the town was the sense of change itself?


In these photographs Margate is seen in all its bleakness - stripped of people, stripped of life - typically taken at dawn and dusk as the famous Margate light played out its dramas. Yet, at its most bleak, Zellien suggests, Margate finds its beauty; the beauty of the limitless possibilities that lay in its future. The real Margate: a town on the edge of Britain always able to renew itself, where change and transformation are intrinsic to its nature.


The closing of the exhibition will be marked by a one-off performance at 8pm on 18 June by improvisation/noise musicians Ampersand, in collaboration with Weltausstellung and Zolan Quobble. This performance will be recorded for release and therefore tickets are limited. Ticket price, £3. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book a place.


Supported by Limbo and an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award.


Texts written by Iain MacKenzie


Limbo 2010