Margate. You know the name even if you’ve never visited. Those two syllables conjure up the hackneyed stereotype of the British seaside: slightly gaudy, worn around the edges, laced with cheap thrills.
Margate is all that, it’s true. But I’ve fallen in love with the place.
My heart beats a little faster each time I catch a glimpse of the currently defunct Dreamland from the train. Even Arlington House and it’s Brutalist and incongruous appearance set my pulse racing. Some call it an eyesore, but I love every inch of its grey concrete, and the ingenuity that allowed even the most decrepit flat to have a wonderful sea view. After all, that’s what Margate is really all about.
I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced a sunset in the UK that quite compares to Margate’s. I suppose Turner was onto something really.
If you like your adventures a little rough around the edges, then Margate has it all – a disused amusement park, empty shopping arcades, a derelict lido, and the Walpole Hotel (as seen on the Hotel Inspector) aka “social history museum” frequented by the likes of Martin Parr for curiosity’s sake. It also has the swanky new Turner Contemporary, a Michelin starred restaurant, and two rather lovely high end B&Bs. If you’re into literature, there’s also the T.S.Eliot connection – natch!
If you haven’t visited you really must, go there before Dreamland is revamped as a heritage amusement park (scheduled for 2014), and before the influx of Guardian and Telegraph reading Londoners get their claws into the place.
These Polaroids were all shot on expired SX-70 film over the last couple of years. They’ll form a part of my Margate and Benidorm Polaroid book, Dreamlands, Wastelands, to be published by Jane&Jeremy later this summer. If you fancy seeing some of the images in person, they’ll be on show at The Mill Co. Project (Mandarin Wharf, 70-76 De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5SB, from the 2nd to 31st of May.
For more, including images from the Benidorm section of the book, visit my website.
You can also find me on Twitter @blackbirdsfly and Facebook.com/PolaroidPhotographer
T: +44 779 2534175