Sunken Gardens to take centre stage for Margate NOW 2021 festival programme

Margate NOW and Sunken Gardens Society members Photo Heather Tait

The Sunken Gardens at Westbrook will take centre stage in the Margate Now 2021 festival this autumn.

Anna Colin will be the festival’s guest curator of a contemporary art programme informed by ecology, botany and community from September 25-October 10. The event will be the eighth edition of the annual festival of contemporary art, music, performance and collective action.

Anna is the former director and a co-founder of Open School East (2013-20), and an independent curator, educator and researcher with an interest in garden design and horticulture.

Launching as Sunken Ecologies on September 25, Anna’s programme for the  festival takes on the human-made natural environment. It centres on the Sunken Garden, designed and landscaped in the 1930s. During the festival, the Sunken Garden acts as a catalyst for botanical, social and speculative investigation, and a space to present artworks, and reclaim or reimagine green spaces.

Anna said: “I appreciate being given this opportunity to curate the 2021 edition of Margate NOW and am excited to explore new ways of working outside, entangling art, nature, learning and communities. I am grateful to the Sunken Garden Society for entrusting us with this miniature Eden, an inspiring model of cooperative effort. “

The programme for Sunken Ecologies will range from functional sculptures serving the needs of the Sunken Garden, to landscape interventions, walks, texts and sounds inspired by the garden and Thanet’s broader human-made natural environment. Outdoor and online talks and intimate events take place on the three weekends of the festival (25-26 September, 2-3 and 9-10 October 2021).

Photo Heather Tait

Dan Chilcott, Jo Murray and Claire Orme, Co-Directors of Margate NOW, said: “This year we continue our overarching motif of ‘Now’, with a focus on the immediate themes of nature and ecology, which are taking on greater pertinence in the present times. We hope that our programme of commissions in the public realm will animate the town, enliven unusual spaces and attract audiences from Margate and beyond.”

Margate NOW began in 2014 as Margate Festival, and has grown into an annual festival producing contemporary culture for diverse audiences in site-specific locations around Margate. Previous guest curators include People Dem Collective (PDC) (2020); Russell Tovey (2019); and Sacha Craddock (2018).

Margate NOW, 25 September 2021 – 10 October 2021. The Sunken Garden, Royal Esplanade, Westbrook, Kent CT9 5EJ, and other venues to be announced.


  1. That’s amazing, The sunken gardens are a reflection of Margate .

    Past decay , recent cohesion, future appreciation

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