An arts charity that works with marginalised groups is getting set to start work converting the Newgate Gap sea shelter into an outdoor art gallery and museum.
The Stretch charity was one of four groups to put in an expression of interest for the community asset transfer of the shelter, and was revealed by Thanet council as the successful applicant last November.
One year on and the organisation has finally been given the go-ahead to start works and planning.
Stretch delivers arts projects with prisoners, ex-prisoners, homeless, mental health groups and young people in care, making the arts accessible to some of the most vulnerable people in society. Projects can cover visual arts, museums, photography, creative writing and media skills. The charity works with people to make their voice heard in order to dispel myths and stereotypes and create positive change.
Charity founder Carlotta Allum last year told The Isle of Thanet News that the aim was to create the first national museum for ‘outsider art’ and to undertake a sensitive rebuild creating an outsider arts trail, workshops and exhibitions.
There were also proposals for a covered outside seating area and sculpture garden and trail.
Artist, writer and curator for Stretch, Dean Stalham, says the group is delighted to become the “newest addition to the Cliftonville and Margate cultural arts quarter’ joining ventures such as the Tom Thumb, Theatre Albion Rooms, Cliffs, Rosslyn Court and, hopefully, the newly managed Oval Bandstand which has been taken over by the GRASS community group.
Carlotta, Dean and members of the team met on site on Friday (November 6).
Carlotta said: “Almost a year to the day that Stretch was awarded the community asset transfer of new gate gap from Thanet council, following our proposal to develop an outsider art gallery and museum, we were finally given the go-ahead to commence planning and work.
“It was really exciting to all gather at the site and have a big Covid friendly outdoor meeting on such an inspiring sunny day.
“Stage one has commissioned local carpenter and set designer Elouise Farley to build a temporary outdoor exhibition space where we can host exhibitions and licensed events and a place where we can consult with the local community about the long term future build on the site.
“Also in attendance on Friday were Theo Molloy and Chloe Leen of Pup Architects who are helping shape a ten year vision for the site.
“It is really exciting to see Cliftonville emerging as the cultural quarter of Margate. We are so pleased to see the investment going into this part of town – we are convinced that we will be a welcome, valuable addition to the Cliftonville Art map.”
An opening event is planned for mid-December and will feature 70 huge posters of local people taken at the end of last year for an Inside Out global art project.
This will involve building and installing a giant ‘art box’ within the columns. A second exhibition planned for Christmas will be Charlie Evaristo-Boyce’s ‘Amazing.’
Dean said: “We will change it monthly. The main transformation will start with plans from Pup Architects. It will be a great place to visit as part of a walk and I’ve discussed with local artists the idea of a Sunday art market – a bit like they have in Bayswater.”
Discussions about a sculpture trail have also taken place with Ramsgate Festival of Sound organiser and artist promoter Tim Fennell.
The shelter was subject to a building control notice and in October last year the roof and seating were removed.
In 2018 the structure had been earmarked for demolition but Thanet council reversed that decision following a Save the Newgate Gap Shelter campaign.
The Edwardian, Ethelbert Crescent shelter is one of several constructed in the early 1900s along the isle’s coastline.