Rhiannon Adam


Margate on the Kent coast once epitomised the traditional British seaside holiday, featuring attractions like Dreamland, home of Britain’s oldest roller coaster. It is also the oldest resort in the country. The town is both iconic and a running joke. It could stand in for any other decrepit coastal mecca. I feel drawn to Margate – it represents a childhood I never had. I feel that I know the place as I have read about it in books and seen it in photographs. It has a powerful cultural currency. To understand the British, it is important to listen to it’s heartbeat, to learn to appreciate the underdog. I have lived in England for many years but having arrived here as a teenager, I realize that my perception was informed by American films about the British upper class. It is only now that I have lived here longer than anywhere else that I have come to accept my adopted ‘Britishness’. Margate is as much the story of a town, as it is a story about me, trying on an identity for size. As in all of my work, these images are a meditation on the essence of ‘place’. By using expired Polaroid SX-70 film, I attempted to capture the nostalgia for Margate, as well as documenting elements of carefree spontaneity associated with childhood. The chemical irregularities of the film echo the visible decay of the town, whilst capturing the beauty of the light that drew Turner there. The photographs retain a timeless quality, inherent in the use of Polaroid. The film’s expired effects also reference the death of the medium I love, and the fading of a British institution.


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