An exhibition three years in the making by a group of up to 60 members of a voluntary research group opens at Turner Contemporary tomorrow (February 3).
Journeys with The Waste Land is a striking combination of historic and modern art exploring poet TS Eliot and his work The Waste Land.
In 1921 Eliot spent a few weeks in Margate at a crucial moment in his career. He arrived physically and mentally exhausted and worked on his poem The Waste Land while sitting in the Nayland Rock shelter on the sea front.
The poem was published the following year and soon became recognised as one of the most important works to be produced in that fractured post Great War period.
The research group, made up of experts in literature and art and of community members interested for a variety of creative reasons, were at the forefront of compiling and creating the exhibition, which is displayed throughout Turner Contemporary’s gallery spaces.
The end result is almost 100 objects from more than 60 artists responding to elements or themes within the poem.
Works range from the beautiful Edward Hopper oil painting Night Windows, on loan from The Museum of Modern Art in New York, to copies of TS Eliot’s poem, with annotations, and modern works including Vibeke Tandberg’s The Waste Land collages and Cy Twombly’s stunning set of Quattro Stagioni canvases.
Turner Contemporary director Victoria Pomery said: “The idea of this show came about because TS Eliot wrote part of The Waste land here in Margate. It was always a huge fascination to me that he had come to Margate.
“Mike Toomby came up with the proposal to create the show and it was actually created by a range of people from our research group of between 20 and 60 people.
“People came in and out of the project and worked over three years. What they really wanted to do was get under the skin of the poem and to understand how to make the exhibition innovative and different and reflect a variety of voices through the visual arts.
“They curated the show and Turner Contemporary stood back, it was a very unnerving process, slightly daunting, but very exciting.
“This group of individuals have given so much time.
“The result is an amazing array of wonderful art works.”
The works are a combination of many formats, from black and white photography to the voyeurism of Hopper’s peek into someone’s privacy in Night Windows, a bold chess style installation by Barbara Kruger and the striking Twombly canvases stood in a gallery that also houses a tree.
Powerful paintings looking at a vulnerable and private moment in time for the female subjects stand alongside Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Playing Chess with Tracey’,masks produced for The Tempest and film from Carey Young Lines.
A guide notes the research group’s reasons for including each piece and how they see the link with The Waste Land poem.
The celebration of TS Eliot and The Waste Land involves some 30 separate exhibions and events around Margate.
Journeys with The Waste Land opens to the public tomorrow (February 3) and runs until May 7
A preview takes place tonight (February 2) at 6pm. Tickets can be booked here