Spend a penny: Is it a gallery or a toilet block? Turner protesters Brendan Maguire, Helene Williams, Tat Taylor
Flushed with success: Turner protesters Brendan Maguire, Helene Williams and Tat Taylor
WHITSTABLE protesters thought Margate's new £17.5 million Turner Contemporary looked so much like a public toilet that they plastered giant "Gents" and "Ladies" signs on its front during a dawn raid.
Engineer Brendan Maguire, 46, of Warwick Road, hatched the plot with sculptor Helene Williams, 48, and builder Tat Taylor, 46, to show gallery bosses what they thought of architect David Chipperfield's new building.
The trio hoodwinked a security guard and police patrolling at 4.30am on Saturday – the day of the gallery's launch – by pretending to be workmen making last-minute preparations.
Mr Taylor chatted to the guard while Mr Maguire used an extension ladder to fix the signs on to the top of the ground floor windows. Miss Williams filmed the protest.
Mr Taylor said: "It was like a scene from a Benny Hill show. Brendan was up and down the ladder in about ten minutes.
"When we walked back across the road we were spotted by two police officers in a patrol car. Brendan even managed to crash into a lamppost with the ladders.
"The patrol car pulled up opposite the Turner, but the police didn't do anything."
Miss Williams said: "I think because Brendan and Tat were wearing high-visibility jackets and builders' hats they looked as though they were legitimate."
Mr Maguire said: "We have no qualms about the concept of a gallery for Margate, but that building is a monstrosity.
"They should have used any of the empty buildings in Margate. When you stand on the harbour arm and look back at Margate it has a beautiful waterfront. The Turner Contemporary just does not fit in. It's like a toilet block."
Mr Maguire said the trio were prepared to be arrested but their exploits went undetected.
Mr Taylor added: "We have renamed it the Turder galley. We don't think Turner would be proud that they put his name to it."
Chloe Barker, a spokeswoman for the Turner Contemporary, declined to comment.