Turner contemporary 'Twenty' launched at Margate art gallery

Contributed by editor on Oct 12, 2019 - 01:25 PM


By Susan Carey

The new £20 note was launched on 10 October at Turner Contemporary in Margate and will be in general circulation from February 2020.


The note, featuring William Turner’s self-portrait, Margate’s lighthouse and the Turner Contemporary building itself, was the obvious place to introduce the new design to the world.

The launch began with a speech from Victoria Pommery, the director of Turner Contemporary who reminded the audience that the gallery was built on the site of the boarding house where Turner himself had lodged and from where he had painted many sky and seascapes.


Mark Carney   Photo: Susan Carey


Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England then spoke about the contribution of Arts to the economy and why Turner had been chosen from the many nominations received from the public to feature on the £20 note. The note itself would be ‘a work of art in every pocket.’


Finally Tracey Emin, local artist of international fame, spoke to welcome an artist appearing on one of our bank notes.


Tracey Emin  Photo: Susan Carey

In the Q&A that followed Mark Carney was asked many questions about the economy but the final question was to Tracey Emin from KCC councillor Susan Carey who asked her to say more about the value of art and if she would like to appear on a bank note herself in 200 years’ time.


Her response though focused on Turner, not herself, and she praised his radical approach to art.

The new £20 is considered the most secure bank note ever produced for the Bank of England. Among the security features are a two-colour foil showing Turner Contemporary in blue and Margate lighthouse in gold.


The lighthouse appears on the new note  Photo: Susan Carey

There are references to Turner throughout the notes. As well as Turner’s self-portrait the £20 note features his signature (copied from his will as he didn’t sign his paintings) and his painting of The Fighting Temeraire.


Another window on the note is in the shape of the fountains outside the National Gallery where The Fighting Temeraire is exhibited. There’s also a symbol representing a window from Tintern Abbey in Wales, which Turner painted. A quote from Turner that ‘Light is therefore colour’ and a symbol in the shape of the staircase at Tate Britain home to so many of Turner’s paintings complete the design.


Bank of England Chief Cashier Sarah John  Photo: Susan Carey


As ever Her Majesty the Queen is on the reverse with the signature of the Chief Cashier Sarah John.

As well as being difficult to forge, the note has several features designed to help the visually impaired being a different size and colour from other bank notes and having a series of raised dots on one edge.

Susan Carey said, ‘After the presentation Sarah John told me that the very first note produced is given to the Queen and the next few low numbered notes are given to the Governor of the Bank, the Prime Minister and other senior figures and the rest of the low numbered notes are auctioned for charity.’

Turner Contemporary is having quite a time as 27 September also saw the launch of Turner 2019 and the four finalists are on exhibition, and free to see, at the gallery until 12 January 2020.

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