Margate NOW 2021:
Sunken Ecologies

25 September – 10 October

Margate NOW is delighted to announce the eighth edition of the annual festival of contemporary art, music, performance and collective action, guest curated by Anna Colin.

Launching as Sunken Ecologies on 25 September (until 10 October 2021), Colin’s programme for the 2021 festival takes on the human-made natural environment. It centres on the Sunken Garden, a public park in the Westbrook area of Margate, designed and landscaped in the 1930’s. During the festival, the Sunken Garden will act as a catalyst for botanical, social and speculative investigation and be a space to present artworks, and reclaim or reimagine green spaces.  

Photo Credit: Heather Tait

Based in Kent, Colin is the former director and a co-founder of Open School East (2013-20), and an independent curator, educator and researcher with an interest in garden design and horticulture. 

I appreciate being given this opportunity to curate the 2021 edition of Margate NOW, and am excited to explore new ways of working outside, entangling art, nature, learning and communities. I am grateful to the Sunken Garden Society for entrusting us with this miniature Eden, an inspiring model of cooperative effort.

The programme for Sunken Ecologies ranges from functional sculptures serving the needs of the Sunken Garden, to landscape interventions, walks, texts and sounds, inspired by the garden and Thanet’s broader human-made natural environment. Outdoor and online talks and intimate events will take place during the three weekends of the festival (25-26 September, 2-3 and 9-10 October 2021).

Dan Chilcott, Jo Murray and Claire Orme, Co-Directors of Margate NOW said, “This year we continue our overarching motif of ‘Now’, with a focus on the immediate themes of nature and ecology, which are taking on greater pertinence in present times. We hope that our programme of commissions in the public realm will animate the town, enliven unusual spaces and attract audiences from Margate and beyond.

Photo Credit: Heather Tait

This year, Margate NOW is experimenting with a different approach to commissioning. Instead of running an open call, the team and guest curator have sought recommendations from Margate NOW partners for artists who have an engagement with the theme of the festival. Studio visits with a wide range of artists from Kent and beyond were held, and later in May, the team and curator will shortlist and announce the artists. In addition, they approached collectives and small-scale organisations to submit proposals for projects relative to the festival’s theme and site. The shortlist for these will also be announced later in May.

About Anna Colin

Anna Colin is an independent curator, educator and researcher based in Deal, Kent. Alongside her freelance activities, which straddle the curatorial and the pedagogical and increasingly engage the natural environment and open spaces, she is training in horticulture and garden design, while completing a PhD in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. Her doctoral research unpacks the notion of the alternative in multi-public educational organisations from the late 19th century to the present, in the UK and further afield. 

Colin was a co-founder and director of Open School East, an independent art school and community space in London then Margate (2013-20). She worked as associate curator at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris (2014-20), associate director at Bétonsalon – Centre for art and research, Paris (2011-12), and curator at Gasworks, London (2007-10). Colin has curated exhibitions at venues including CA2M, Móstoles/Madrid; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool; Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo; GAM, Turin; La Synagogue de Delme, Delme;  Le Quartier, Quimper; La Maison pop, Montreuil; and The Women’s Library, London. In 2015-16, Anna was co-curator, with Lydia Yee, of British Art Show 8 (Leeds, Edinburgh, Norwich and Southampton).

About the Sunken Garden

The Sunken Garden is situated in Westbrook in Margate where it is a feature of the Royal Esplanade. Landscaped in the early 1930s during the years of the Depression, the garden survived the neglect of war and the partial eclipse of the popularity of seaside resorts. This much loved community space is set in the limestone chalk cliff of Westbrook Bay where it is protected from sweeping winds and encircled by a terrace, and is one of the rare places on the Margate coastline where trees are found. Planting has changed radically from the lush bedding displays of the 1930s to the present arrangement of hardy coastal shrubs. Under the care of the Sunken Garden Society (SGS), a group of committed dedicated volunteers, SGS has – since 2018 – actively engaged with wildlife conservation, and is an RHS affiliated society. SGS was a recipient of the 2020 Bees Needs Champions Award.


Margate NOW 2021 is only made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Kent County Council, and support from Interreg Experience and Visit Kent.

Read the full press release here.

For images, interview requests and further information please contact Janette Scott Arts PR on or 07966 486156.