The Margate School (TMS) is an independent not-for-profit postgraduate liberal arts school. Situated across a former four storey Woolworths Building that had stood empty since 2008, The Margate School by its very nature has become a new hub for innovation and creativity in the town of Margate and plays an influential part in the story of Margate’s regeneration.
The exciting local cultural offer, tourism and leisure facilities, cafes and restaurants somewhat camouflage the fact that we are also situated in one of the poorest wards and most pressurised high streets in the country.
Our theme of Art, Society, Nature aims to provide a socially engaged and sustainability-driven programme, delivered through knowledge sharing, space and facility provision, enabling creative practitioners to realise their potential.
We are rooted in community and connect nationally and internationally; we reach out through our academic programmes, events, workshops, residencies, guest lectures and exhibitions. Much of our provision is subsidised in support of Margate and its diverse creative and wider communities.
Since opening our doors in June 2019, we have welcomed over 30,000 visitors to a diverse range of creative events, conferences and exhibitions, hosted over 60 events & exhibitions; supporting artists from diverse and local communities, children and adults with special needs, designers, researchers and professionals.
Inspired by thinkers and makers in the arts, design, the social and natural sciences, humanities and philosophy. TMS is inspired also by the debate around pioneering and so-called ‘alternative school’ concepts, such as Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, the Summerhill School etc.
“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
Paulo Freire (1921 – 1997)
Our European Fine Art MA: Art, Society, Nature is the first of its kind in the UK, aiming to provide an alternative approach to higher education. This Masters programme aims to encourage you to think about your practice outside of yourself, by exploring how your art can be used to benefit, protect and sustain the world around you. This course is being pioneered by The Margate School and ESADHaR in a unique Anglo-French collaboration, with the support of the Council of Normandy and the French Ministry of Culture. This partnership gives opportunity for students to create and study in an international context. The School is also members with ELIA, the largest European network of art and design schools. Our first cohort of students graduated at the Turner Contemporary in the summer of 2021.
Visual Communication: Design, Society, Nature is a one-year course is designed to give students a unique foundation in the fundamental principles of Visual Communication, with a conceptual focus on the principles of Design, Society, and Nature. You will be part of an intimate cohort on a groundbreaking course, studying in a busy, sociable environment with hands-on, dynamic, and collaborative classes.
Sound Arts: Sound, Society, Nature aims to cultivate a heightened awareness of the role sound and music can play in understanding and shaping our society and environment. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of practices relating to creating, perceiving, and critically considering sound, listening and music. A unifying focus to this work will be the locale: Margate’s natural environment, architecture, and music/sound communities will form the basis for learning.
“I can confidently say that the pedagogic approach that has been developed is unique in the UK. There are a number of factors here that constitute significant innovation. Specifically, the incredible space that has been created; that is flexible, inclusive of stakeholders, public artists and students. This has, and will, have an important impact on the local and regional community, providing opportunities that were not previously available in this area. This space allows professional practice and education to co-exist symbiotically in a way that constitutes best practice and creates the ideal context for genuinely advanced practice”
Dr Rebekka Kill, External Examiner
Our initiatives include the High Street Community Garden project using land at the back of the School to develop a place for creative education, sustainability and permaculture, sculpture, making and respite.
In April 2022, we launched the first ever Margate Festival of Design focussing initially on works to be showcased in the High Street with accompanying talks and workshops.
The New Street Public Art exhibition is a display of commissioned street art murals and posters from local and international artists, with approximately an open call every three to four months. This initiative has not only created opportunities for artists and designers to showcase their work, it also contributes to reducing anti-social behaviour and drawing in new footfall into a small side street that happens to be home to a number of small shops and restaurants.
Each month together with Genetic Moo, local tech experts and support of the Kent Community Foundation we organise the Margate Tech Club which is a free drop-in for families and children curating a series of workshops around creative programming, 3D printing and gamification.
Officinae humanitatis — fabricando fabricamur
Studios of humanity — we become humans as we engage humanly in the world we occupy.
Our programme of talks cover a range of diverse art and design interests normally addressing the School's theme of Art, Society, Nature.
We invited renowned speakers and emerging artists alike, who included Prof Jules Pretty OBE on North Sea Sagas and sustainability; Oscar winner Arnold Schwartzman OBE RDI on film making and the history of Margate on film; Justin Burn on research into seaside typography, which was the basis for a further talk at the Design Museum, London; MAMIMU (June Mineyama-Smithson) on her graphic design pattern work shown internationally on ITV, Creative Boom, Cow Parade Niseko, SCMP and Milk; Graphic designers Lucienne Roberts and Sthuthi Ramesh; Anthony Burrill on protest poster art and public art installations; Artist, filmmaker, writer and lecturer Lee Campbell on Polari as part of the LGBT+ history month as well as Professor Sue Sanders the co-founder of LGBT+ History Month; Ruskin scholar Robert Hewison discussed John Ruskin’s life-long experience of France, its culture, politics and architecture; Steve Alexander talked about the work of his father, the artist and art teacher Christopher Alexander; Chris Plato of the history of 'Proverbial Paradox' in art; Sustainable photographer and researcher Melanie King; Painter Rémy Noë on The journey – Art, Society and Nature, a planned trip to near the arctic circle by bus and train supported by TMS; sculptor, painter and medical artist Eleanor Crook, about anatomy, waxworks, archaeology and accessing the unconscious in art; designer Rui Leitao from Leeds University on gamification; Translating Nature: using Data as an Art Material by Dr. Julie Freeman.
Artist Support & Community Outreach
So far, our residencies have covered art, photography, community outreach, art and technology. We host community-led exhibitions providing opportunities to emerging local artists, artists from the traveling community, prisoners and former prisoners, young artists.
Works of established artists included abstract paintings by Ian Bottle, landscapes by Christopher Alexander (1926-1984) and Paul Gadenne, sculptures by Anthony Heywood (1952—2022), Anja Hessler mobile installation; Justin Burns typeface of seaside towns; Robert Stillman sound and art installation; Alexis Hunter (1948—2014) feminist paintings and photography for the first time on show in the UK. We annually support the Power of Women festival; Margate Pride; Margate Film Festival; Art4All show representing young artists with disabilities; the Thanet Young Artist Festival in which over 50 local schools participate in; Thanet Photographers; Margate Bookie, the UK Creative Festival held at Dreamland.
We produced and collaborated with light artist Shaun Prickimage on the PEACE LOVE UNITY RESPECT in Margate light and interactive sound installation with hundreds of participants. The installation was a basis for follow-on installations at festivals across the country.
Our studios, darkroom, makerspace and FabLab facilities for our community of around 80 creative professionals, educators and students, provides a collaborative space for growing businesses and creatives alongside technical support and advice.
The Margate School seeks to create exciting and unique learning experiences in and around Margate, a fascinating and contrasting social, cultural and natural setting to bring together international and local students, academics, artists, philosophers, scientists as well as the wider community.
“Stop the War” is an ongoing series of creative challenges to violence. From performance and video art to protest posters and sculpture, mediums of expression seek to assess situations as they unfold, spreading awareness. As an organisation we can only do so much, as individuals you can only do so much, but we can work together to move forward and make an impact.
We all supported the national coastal campaign Make the Wave raising awareness of the climate crisis through banner art with contributions from a range of local artists.