First exhibition now on display at Newgate shelter ‘art box’ – but vandals target it overnight

Familiar faces for the first art box exhibition

The first, month-long ‘art box’ exhibition is now on display at the Newgate Gap shelter in Cliftonville but vandals have targeted it.

Arts charity Stretch took on the structure as a community asset transfer from Thanet council last year. The organisation works with marginalised groups to deliver art projects.

The ‘art box’ is due to be in place for up to two years as a base to display art. A six month programme of exhibitions is currently confirmed with each lasting for a month.

The current display is of posters from a Stretch Inside Out Project which took place in 2019. This consisted of some 70 Thanet based artists/residents having portrait photos taken which were printed in a super-sized format.

Sadly, these have suffered damage with some being ripped down.

Dean Stalham, from Stretch, said the posters will be replaced tomorrow (February 3) and CCTV is due to be installed.

He added: “There are 48 posters displayed and they are there for the month. The next exhibition will be from artist Chu, we then have Charlie Everisto- Boyce and this will be followed by an exhibition from Margate’s Love Café (run by Libertines co-frontman Carl Barat, chef and restaurateur, Gizzi Erskine; partner and Cruel Hearts Club’s’ front woman Edie Langley and music industry insider Ronnie Traynor).

“We will also have Margate artist Tony Waite and we are just waiting for some other really big names.”

As well as the art programme discussions have been underway for carpentry students from Broadstairs College to create trellis work along the shelter frame which will then have plants put in place by gardener Jason Wisteria.

Dean said: “The plants will grow all along the trellis, all around the structure, so in a month or so we will have a wonderful flower display.”

Benches are also due to be installed.

In 2018 the structure had been earmarked for demolition but Thanet council reversed that decision following a Save the Newgate Gap Shelter campaign.

The shelter was then subject to a building control notice and in October 2019 the roof and seating were removed. The same month it was listed for asset disposal by Thanet council.

Four expressions of interest were received, including community group the Friends of Cliftonville Coastline. The Stretch bid and five year plan was chosen by the council to take on the shelter. That bid included proposals to create the first national museum for ‘outsider’ art via projects with groups such as prisoners, ex-prisoners, rough sleepers, mental health groups and young people in care.

Long-term plans for the shelter include the first national museum for Outsider Art and a rebuild “that will be sensitive to the original features and incorporate as much of the roof and iron work as is safe and possible,”


  1. Strikes me of a group of very vane people wanting their faces on show. I mean most people wont have a clue who there are.

    Not really surprised some got rip down

    • I’m vain, and they’re welcome to use my photo!

      Whilst I’m not particularly a fan of this, after debating with the organisers on here when it was proposed a while back it became clear that they are very decent and well-meaning people. I wish them the best of luck.

    • The JR project is a global art project whereby the famous street artist JR puts on exhibitions of normal people, as a form of inclusive art – people should google it read all about it, it will be interesting to see how the vandals react to the up and coming programme of work, local artists etc, if there is any more pride in the work – it was to be expected but still upsetting obviously – I hope once we get the cctv we can blow up the pictures of the vandals and plaster them all over the box ! And yes we will prepare some exhibitions of your comments and responses too
      Can not wait for the spring, when we have professional gardeners tending the space and the benches etc going in – until then, thank you to everyone who has been supportive

      • The famous street artist JR, who is so famous, nobody appears to have heard of him. Obviously likes to keep himself in hiding.

      • Benches as well, that will be useful for graffiti artists to rest, while viewing these amazing photos.

        Sorry, am trying to be serious, and hold back the laughter.

      • Charlotte

        Said “people should google it read all about it”

        And that’s the problem the art people think we should go and read about them ! Kids want skate parks, youth clubs computer clubs, boxing clubs etc etc . But your response is ‘NO’ the kids should Google this art. Lol. Most kids and I guess guess most people in thanet arent into your arty life style. We are struggling with rising cost of living but do worry our kids can go to art to let of steam and look at your photo.

      • Carlotta, my feelings are exactly the same as others posted on here; nobody is approving of the vandalism, just ridiculous that you feel art is the answer to all problems.

        To be honest, I am absolutely sick of art galleries/studios, whichever label you choose. We need people to invest in retail, and clubs that youths would actually be interested in, not art, art, art.

        • I think with so much of our taxes being even to the art community it is more likely to divide thanet than bring thanet together.
          I to am sick to death of our taxes being even to art, TC, dreamland. Most of this art is of the standard of a 5 year old yet grown up adults thinks its great. Didnt a piece of modern art get sold for millions and than the owner said it was done by a monkey lol

          Theres something very strange as to why it’s always art.

          All art will do is encourage people from the big cities art loves to move here. That will push up housing and rental cost forcing our kids to move away. How is thanet improving thanet ?

      • Who would place that there, and have the cheek to call it art, it’s like an advert for vandals. Wake up, look around you, see what’s going on.

  2. I suspect that this is not so much ‘vandalism’ as a public protest at TDC, own vandalism in letting this, once beautiful, shelter fall into such disrepair that their shocking conclusion was simply demolition.
    There lies the true vandalism, not a protest against a few photographs of people that the great majority of people have no knowledge of.
    Whilst not condoning this action, I do understand the underlying frustrations at the heart of it.

  3. gardener Jason Wisteria…. Ooh how I laughed. Pictures by Dave camera and Bob paintbrush, both arrived on boatymcboatface.
    Emperor’s New clothes.

    • Notapartyparty

      Agree with all your comments, I have not stopped laughing, especially about Dave camera and Bob paintbrush

  4. art and vandalism , two very popular pastimes in thanet, and before they start spouting about this being an isolated inciddent in thanet , i suggest they read todays free paper , it dont paint a very good picture of this hole.

  5. Will Stretch stretch its imagination to allow the public to add colour and commentary to this exhibit? I’m sure it will happen anyway!

  6. This really made me laugh, what were they expecting would happen?

    Did they expect people to just view some photos?

  7. Not much of an exhibition that, and the shelter is looking an even more mess now. TDC’s vandalism of the shelter is typical of it’s lack of maintenance to structures in Cliftonville.
    Why didn’t TDC sell it to one of the groups that were planning to lovingly restore it back to the former shelter and putting this heritage back in place as it belongs? At least it would have been better use to everyone than the art poster box.

  8. Looks an absolute mess, a wall of photos of unknown people, sited in the remains of a shelter.

    Typical Margate art work.

  9. There is a Victorian cast iron post in Hartsdown park. I am starting a just giving page to restore it to it’s former glory as the post it used to be… Shocking how TDC have let this rot over the last 120 years. Will be used as an art gallery when finished.

  10. Until the remote owners of this piece of Margate’s heritage understand what they prevented being rescued from TDC’s agenda of turning our “pride into liability”, they will be perpetually surprised by Margate’s response to their arrogance.

  11. What do people really expect, cliftonville has an abundance of antisocial destructive types , nothing on that site will remain untouched for more than a few days, the art has little appeal to the vast majority of those who’ll see it a d its not exactly going to be a draw for the arty aficionado’s.
    They only got the site because the council no longer wanted it and wanted a liability off their books, the new crowd won’t have any money to do much with it until some benefactor/ grant apprears.
    The article speaks of working with the. marginalised or some such, but if i understand correctly from previous articles it stemmed from working with ex offenders , which to my mind is a group who marginalised themselves and not generally a section of society that garners a great deal of support from those less criminally minded.
    But the mould has been cast and hopefully something of some real interest will emerge , rather than just some sort of project that is very personal to very few people.

  12. Sarah

    Yes I wrote “Not really surprised some got rip down’”

    But that isnt approving of vandals, just stating I wasnt surprised it happened

  13. With all the poverty and drug & alcohol abuse in the area, is art the answer? Should we encourage DFL artists looking to supplement their sales from their London flats or should we be looking at the locals and how to raise them out of this situation? If this art had been produced by a local, the local kids would not dare to make their marks on it. Should we not offer a space for those that made their mark on this to do it separately? Or should we just give money to “famous” artists? There is so much talent locally that needs to be given a chance to shine

  14. It’s not art, just posters of photos. The wall they had on ramsgate seafront was much nicer. Sadly most of that got vandalised as well. Thanet really is a shit show now and the police and judges do nothing

  15. Thanet is not a “shit show”!There are a few miserable people commenting frequently on here who need to get a far far less pessimistjc view of things. I cannot understand how they can go around seeing nothing except crime and ugliness.

  16. I go to well-established optician in Ramsgate. And I don’t need your advice on anything, “Scot Chegg”.

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