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Things to see and do in January: exhibitions including My Bed at Turner Contemporary and the Clangers & Co

By Angela Cole

Catch them if you can! Here are six stimulating exhibitions you could head to across the county and beyond before they close for good.

Tracey Emin’s My Bed at Turner Contemporary, Margate

Famously featuring her own bed, Margate’s own Tracey Emin’s My Bed it gives a snapshot of her life after a traumatic relationship breakdown.

Tracey Emin's My Bed
Tracey Emin's My Bed

The unconventional and uncompromising self-portrait through objects is her unmade bed, surrounded by used condoms, stained underwear, cigarette butts and empty vodka bottles.

They marked a moment of epiphany in her life when, after spending over a week in bed drifting in and out of consciousness in an alcoholic haze, she came to a realisation. She said: “I just suddenly thought, ‘This is horrific’. And then it all turned around for me. It stopped being horrific and started being beautiful. Because I hadn’t died, had I?’”

The artist confirmed she planned to return to live and work in the town when she launched the exhibition in October, saying: “Margate’s already blossoming... Margate’s really edgy... I feel like London’s crushing me,” and describing the Turner exhibition as the “most exciting and ambitious” location because “the audience will be very discerning”.

Artist Tracey Emin
Artist Tracey Emin

Originally made in the artist’s Waterloo council flat in 1998 and included in her Turner Prize exhibition in 1999, My Bed has been on long-term loan to Tate following its sale to a private collector in 2014.

It is on display with a collection of JMW Turner’s seascapes and stormy skies, chosen by the artist and loaned from Tate’s collection. Both artists are former residents of Margate – Turner returned regularly to the seaside town for its unique quality of light and skies.

The exhibition runs until Sunday, January 14. Admission to Turner Contemporary is free and it is open from Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays 10am to 5pm. Visit Turner Contemporary at Rendezvous, Margate, CT9 1HG, call 01843 233000, or visit turnercontemporary.org

Oh Yes It is! The Beaney, Canterbury

You can still feel festive, with the interactive exhibition celebrating the history of the very British institution, Oh Yes It Is! at the Beaney in Canterbury.

Drawing on one of the largest collections of pantomime-related material in the UK and recently acquired by the University of Kent – it features posters, props, programmes and costume designs which have graced stages across the country through the ages. Developed by the university’s special collections and archives department, there is a graphical timeline from the 1700s, up to the present day with set and costume designs loaned by Evolution Productions, run by Emily Wood and Paul Hendy, who produce the panto at the Marlowe Theatre.

Ben Roddy as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. Picture: Tim Stubbings
Ben Roddy as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. Picture: Tim Stubbings

It links with the current pantomime, Peter Pan, which finishes this weekend on Sunday, January 14, and also includes interactive spaces for visitors of all ages, including Widow Twankey’s laundry, Dick Whittington’s road to London, the Giant’s library and a pantomime-themed dressing-up area, colouring activities for children and a Dick Whittington-themed trail.

It is at the Special Exhibitions Room at The Beaney in Canterbury until Sunday, February 18. For details visit thebeaney.co.uk or call 01227 862162.

Pick By Pick at Rochester Art Gallery and the Huguenot Museum

Rochester Art Gallery and the Huguenot Museum have joined forces for the first time with an exhibition of work by Whitstable artist Margo Selby. The exhibition – her first solo show – showcases her portfolio built up over 15 years and work that reveals the processes that go into handwoven textiles.

Margo Selby's first solo exhibition is on in Rochester Picture: Barry Goodwin
Margo Selby's first solo exhibition is on in Rochester Picture: Barry Goodwin

There are a series of linked workshops. A Colour & Stripe Workshop will be at the Hugenot Museum on Saturday, January 20 at 10.30am, costing £20 and Margo Selby will be giving a talk on her career at 2pm that day, which costs £8. Pick by Pick runs until Saturday, February 24, and takes place at both Rochester Art Gallery and the Huguenot Museum. Go to huguenotmuseum.org or visitmedway.org/attractions.

Clangers, Bagpuss & Co Exhibition at Sissinghurst Gardens

The Clangers, Bagpuss and other well known characters including Noggin the Nog, who were all created in a disused cowshed near Canterbury, are part of the Clangers, Bagpuss & Co Exhibition, organised by the V&A Museum of Childhood and open at Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens until Sunday, February 4.

The original Clangers series was filmed near Canterbury and first broadcast in 1969
The original Clangers series was filmed near Canterbury and first broadcast in 1969

Telling the story of much-loved family TV favourites which came from the creative genius of puppeteers Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate through Smallfilms, at Blean, it also looks at Peter’s connection to Sissinghurst as the illustrator of some of Vita Sackville-West’s poetry.
There are puppets, original sets and filming equipment and archive footage, sets and storyboards and a recreation of Oliver and Peter’s film studio. Normal admission charges apply. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle.

Clementine Churchill: Speaking for Herself, Chartwell

The devoted pairing of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and Clementine, who were married more than 56 years, is commemorated in Clementine Churchill: Speaking for Herself at their former home, Chartwell near Westerham. It features items never seen on public display before, including treasured childhood photographs and has more than 60 objects, from photos and private letters. It is open until Sunday, February 18. The house itself is closed for winter. Entry to the gardens, studio and exhibition is £7.50. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell or call 01732 868381.

The Oscar Nemon statue of Winston and Clementine Churchill at Chartwell Picture: National Trust
The Oscar Nemon statue of Winston and Clementine Churchill at Chartwell Picture: National Trust

Also on this weekend... find out more about Lumiere London in Mayfair - click here.

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