Bored? In need of some culture? The county of Kent is home to some of the best classic, modern and contemporary works of art in the UK. These 5 are permanent too, so there’s plenty of time to visit these stunning artworks!
I Never Stopped Loving You – Tracey Emin – Margate
As the sun sets over Margate’s shore, Tracey Emin’s neon work ‘I Never Stopped Loving You’ bathes Droit house in a warm, purplish light. The work, commissioned by Thanet District Council in 2010, christened Margate at the dawn of the town’s regeneration. Tracey Emin was born and raised in Margate and has since made plans to move her London studio back to her seaside hometown. It’s an instantly recognisable Emin: scrawling handwriting, intense neon and a heartfelt slogan – all characteristics of her later works. ‘I Never Stopped Loving You’ presents a deeply romanticised view of her hometown which, at the risk of being overly sentimental, makes Margate feel like home.
The Folkestone Mermaid – Cornelia Parker – Folkestone
Folkestone is perhaps the best place to see permanent contemporary sculptures in Kent. The Folkestone Triennial that is held every three years sees a huge number of contemporary artists installing sculptures in the seaside town – most are temporary but the best-loved ones get to stay. Among the best is Cornelia Parker’s ‘The Folkestone Mermaid’. The sculpture is a life-size cast of a Folkestone resident and is based on a similar sculpture in Copenhagen. Parker called this tranquil bronze statue “a monument of the people and for the people of Folkestone”.
Turning Pages – Michael Craig-Martin – Margate
Michael Craig-Martin’s ‘outlined’ works are fixtures of every great contemporary gallery. A giant of contemporary art, Craig-Martin granted his blessing to the Turner Contemporary shortly after it opened with ‘Turning Pages’ in 2011. It’s subject is immediately evident – an open book – in Craig-Martin’s signature outlined style. It is the only permanent work in the Turner Contemporary having hung above the information desk since the gallery’s opening. The captivating artwork, like Tracey Emin’s ‘I Never Stopped Loving You’, is made of neon.
Separated, but not Divorced (The Bull) – Thomas Sidney Cooper – Canterbury
Thomas Sidney Cooper’s ‘Separated, but not Divorced (The Bull)’ is perhaps the most enticing painting in the Beaney Gallery’s collection. The Canterbury gallery bought this painting long after it failed to sell at auction in Cooper’s heyday; this might’ve been due to it’s enormous size. Cooper painted it between 1874-1882, around the time when many English painters were beginning to experiment with modern techniques, however, Cooper’s painting remains true to the realist style of some of the great masters.
SKYLADDER and Earth Peace – Yoko Ono – Folkestone
The notoriously conceptual artist Yoko Ono made her mark at the 2014 Folkestone Triennial with this simplistic, meaningful artwork. A huge light beams 24 hours a day from the roof of a hotel on The Lees spelling out ‘Earth Peace’ in morse code. It is meant as a monument to those that have died for peaceful causes over the centuries. The light beam is accompanied by a plaque nearby. Its transfixing power leaves its viewers stood motionless along the Kentish shore.