Barcelona, Bilbao and Glasgow have all enjoyed a cultural regeneration by celebrating their most famous sons. So there was no reason why the seaside town of Margate should not follow suit with J M W Turner.
But the team behind the Turner Centre, the new £20m venue for the visual arts to open in the Kent town in 2007, admitted yesterday that they had no Turners to display.
Victoria Pomery, the director, said the centre was in talks with national museums, galleries and private collectors to draw together pieces for annual exhibitions of Turner's work.
Kent County Council, which is investing £5m in the project with extra help from Thanet District Council, owns no masterpieces by the artist, although he spent his childhood in Margate and returned to the town later in his life. So, for much of the year, the centre intends to display works by other artists, principally contemporary works. Ms Pomery said she believed that Turner would have approved. She said: "Turner was a revolutionary. He was a man who was a forward thinker."
But Roger Gale, the MP for North Thanet, said he thought that there should be some permanent "Turnerabilia". He said: "People will want to see a bronze bust of Turner, bits and pieces of his life and at least one Turner painting at all times. I just look at this as a punter and think, if I'm going to the Turner centre, I expect to see Turners."
He also queried the design of the gallery, which will rise out of the sea alongside the pier, but will not have a full view of the sunsets for which Turner was famed.Kjetil Thorsen, one of the venue's architects, said: "You will be able to see the sunset from the restaurant."Reuse content