Who are you? LIMBO – the artist-led organisation based in Margate’s former electrical substation since 2003. We run an exhibition/events programme, and provide studios and a project space for hire. Paul Hazelton, founder & Matthew de Pulford – artistic co-director.
Why Margate? Paul – Because Margate is home.
First Margate memory? Matthew – Paul has lived in Margate forever and would probably have a beautiful Proustian anecdote in answer to this question, but instead I’ll regale you with my first Margate memory. I grew up in Faversham (my granddad actually used to be postmaster general in Margate). The first time I remember coming to town independently was for my friend Ben’s birthday. We were about eleven or twelve and had been allowed to travel to Dreamland (Bembom Bros at that time) unaccompanied. The moment we got off the train, Ben’s friend Hayden pulled Ben’s trousers down in front of a trainload of onlookers. I didn’t learn until later what a classically ‘Margate’ moment that was.
What attracted you to the LIMBO building? When The Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways and Lighting Company purchased the building and first introduced the transformers in 1902, the Substation brought significant social (and economic) change to the town. However, rather unusually, it supplied DC electricity to domestic consumers – a high risk burst of something new. It’s an irresistible metaphor!
What sort of renovations did you have to carry out on the building? We’re based to the rear of KFC, off Margate High Street and what we’ve discovered is that pigeons love the Colonel’s secret recipe. So one of our first jobs was to clear out a pigeon infestation and give the place a thorough detox! (The pigeons keep coming back, scratching away at the roof tiles in hope of gaining re-entry…) Our building work thus far has been quite basic: Stud drawing walls and secure doors and windows for the studios. For us there’s a balance to be struck between providing the best spaces for making/showing artwork and maintaining something of the romance of the original building. And it’s important that the space is affordable. We’re not operating for profit; we’re doing what we can to contribute to an engaged creative community here, because that’s what we want as artists.
Best and worst thing about setting up the studio? Matthew – Best – Seeing creativity in Margate slowly flourish. Worst – Probably the worst thing for me was setting-up wifi – the most unnecessarily lengthy and farcical process I’ve ever experienced!
If you could change one thing about the building what would it be? It’s visibility to the public. Being up an alley of the High Street makes us appear less welcoming than we are! But we’re working on this as we speak (type!)
If you were an animal what you be? That’s a hard question. I think we’ll say that Limbo would be a Bonobo. Bonobo’s seem to have a pretty progressive attitude to social interaction.
Who are your heroes? Organisations we respect include Eastside Projects (Birmingham) and Outpost (Norwich). And of course we’re very fond of our neighbours Crate and Turner Contemporary.
What would you do if you were Mayor of Margate for a day? It’s probably fruitless to propose anything too ambitious for one day, particularly as the mayor’s role is pretty much ceremonial these days, barring the obvious exceptions. I suppose we would use the position to advocate some of Margate’s stalwarts that have kept things going over the years: the Dreamland Trust, Margate Museum, Mad Hatters. We might try to ask some questions about how a superstore on the seafront would impact on Margate’s long-term tourism offer…
Where do you go for a nightcap? There are many excellent drinking establishments in town. We’ve always received a friendly welcome at the Northern Belle, Barnacles and the Lifeboat.
What couldn’t you live without? It’s amazing what people can live without.
Which artist past or present would you most like to collaborate with and why? Matthew – I get the impression that Dan Graham would have been a great collaborator, particularly in his late 1970s- early ’80s phase. And Paul Hazelton, of course!
What is your biggest weakness? Fried chicken, possibly.
Best advice you’ve been given? The quality of advice depends on the situation it’s applied to, wouldn’t you say? Most of the advice I have received, good or bad, has amounted to the same thing: “Do it” or “Don’t do it”.
If you could hold an event anywhere in Thanet where and what would it be? Oh, rich pickings. Does it have to be just one? A festival at the Lido could be incredible with the right weather.
Biggest extravagance spent on the studios? We’re never extravagant!
Object of desire for the studios? Insulation!
What is the best thing about sharing space with other creative individuals? Being part of a passionate, knowledgeable and neighbourly community.
What are your goals for 2013? To start a membership scheme and programme that will take us on the path to doing more, better and self-sufficiently.
ROUND-UP: LIMBO sits out of view behind the high street, but if you take the time to wander up the side street you will find an industrial building tucked away that dates back to 1849, thought to be once a coach house for Thomson & Son Brewers, in 1902 the Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways & Lighting Company became the owners. Today the building houses artists studios upstairs & on the ground floor an impressive gallery space, where once there were transformers & switchgears now an ever transforming room – showcasing the work of emerging artists.
For Information about LIMBO visit – www.limboarts.co.uk
Substation Project Space, 2 Bilton Square, High Street, Margate.
CRATE – www.cratespace.co.uk
Turner Contemporary – www.turnercontemporary.org
To take part in the Curio contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
All images ©Jo Willis