‘Warm bank’ at Turner Contemporary features children’s library and Ramsgate students’ Fantastical Worlds exhibition

Fantastical art, books and comfort at Turner Contemporary's warm bank and children's library room

A children’s art library featuring an exhibition by Royal Harbour Academy students has been created in a registered warm bank at Turner Contemporary.

The Margate art gallery has registered the warm bank on national databases as part of the effort to help those struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Based in the gallery’s Clore Learning Studio, people are invited to visit, read the books, use the wifi, get creative and stay warm.

Photo Tim Topple

The studio has been transformed from a white canvas to a vibrant space with comfy chairs, tables, some 400 children’s art books and the colourful Fantastical Worlds display by two groups of Year 8 students working with Project Motorhouse, photographer Tim Topple and artist Christopher Tipping.

Turner Contemporary’s head of visitor experience, Toby Parkin, and learning producer Dee Ajiba (both pictured above) have overseen the warm bank/art library and exhibition installation.

Toby said: “The idea is for people to come and stay as long as they like. We are going to have early years sessions after the half term and then we will be looking at after-school clubs and sessions for older people.

“With the cost of living crisis we  have registered as a warm bank on the national database and we want to be a living room space for Margate. People can hang out here and cut their bills, use the internet and the café, members of staff will be here and there are the children’s books, many of them that will be interesting for adults as well.”

The warm bank is a pilot project running from its opening tomorrow (October 22) until January 8.

Photo Tim Topple

While using the room people can also view the Fantastical Worlds exhibition by 21 Royal Harbour/Project Motorhouse students.

In May, the students took part in a series of imaginative and collaborative workshops with photographer Tim Topple and artist Christopher Tipping alongside Jo Mapp and Janet Fielding from Project Motorhouse.

The groups experimented with surreal photography, performance, and collage to create their works.

One of the RHA groups during the project with photographer Tim Topple

Dee said: “The students took part in creative, experimental workshops inspired by Alice in Wonderland, surrealism and pop-up books.

“The art books in our children’s library include beautifully illustrated early years books and story narrative ones all the way up to more educational art history for older children. There are also how to books so people can have a go for themselves.

“We want the studio to feel really comfortable so people can use the space for downtime and also take the chance to see the exhibitions.”

Second RHA group Photo Tim Topple

The Royal Harbour youngsters excitedly viewed the installation of their art yesterday, ahead of the opening this weekend.

Student Thomas Hitch, 13, said: “It was an amazing experience and we learned to do so much.”

The youngster, who had already been involved in photography, added: “It has inspired my love of photography even more.”

Fellow school student Bethany Sheely, also 13, added: “It is nice that it is all free so anyone who wants to can come and have a look. It was fun taking the photos and a great experience.”

Students viewing their exhibition with Tim and Janet from Project Motorhouse

Janet Fielding, who founded Project Motorhouse, said: “The students really loved it so I asked (Turner Contemporary head of exhibitions) Sarah Martin to come and have a look at our colourful and joyous show.

“Art should be fun, it doesn’t always have to be serious. Photographer Tim Topple went into the school to do sessions and had a lot of cameras! The students enjoyed those and there were no barriers to getting involved, we paid fares etc.”

Photo Tim Topple

Tim said working with the students was “nothing but rewarding,” adding that there were a lot of ‘firsts’ in the project.

He said: “For many it was the first time they had held a camera and definitely the first time they’ve been exhibited in a gallery space, it’s all about breaking down barriers. They are very excited about it.”

The children’s art library and Fantastical Worlds exhibition runs alongside two new shows opening tomorrow – – Stephen Cripps: In Real Life and Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent: Cold Light.

Turner Contemporary is open Tuesday – Sunday 10am -5pm (last entry 4pm).

Artwork and, inset, artist Chris Tipping

The proposal for Warm Banks was raised in response to the cost of living crisis and energy hikes. Earlier this year there were calls at Kent County Council to identify places to be used.

Kent County Council’s shadow cabinet member for adult social care, Cllr Kelly Grehan (Lab) was preparing a list of places where people could keep warm and go to sit to play games, chat, use computers and play activities for free, or at minimal cost.

Suggested “warm bank” venues include churches and libraries to allow people to go sit, play games, use computers and engage in other activities for free.

A donation from County Councillor Barry Lewis is being used for a warm bank at Millmead SureStart Children’s Centre in Margate.