Press Release
Rachel Wilberforce
June 2015

Previews 19 June 2015
Arcade Hall
Dreamland Margate

Dreamland, Margate is pleased to announce a contemporary public-realm art installation by British artist Rachel Wilberforce: Solaris. This is Wilberforce’s first public-realm work and is a response to the history and recent reimagining of what is thought to be Britain’s oldest amusement park. It uses original coloured-glass neon lights sourced from the old Dreamland site, which the artist has sculptured within a transparent Perspex sculpture, with an outer arcade game-like plinth.

After having been left derelict for years with its identity and infrastructure dissolving, Dreamland has been transformed into a site of play once more. While its purpose remains the same for the most part – to entertain – its emphasis has evolved: it now also provides a home for restored fairground rides from around the world. In consciously re-presenting the history of the amusement park, Dreamland’s identity has shifted: it has become a site of revival. 

The space has transitioned before. It has been a site hosting entertainment and amusements since 1880’s, but it was not until 1920 that it became known as Dreamland, a name that suggests escape and fantasy; a place of the ‘other’. Wilberforce’s work often deals with such spaces of ‘otherness’. In creating this piece, her aim was to amalgamate a sense of Dreamland’s legacy and evolution to its current status, as well as what its new guise and purpose might propose for the future.

Solaris is situated in the Arcade Hall, a space filled with vintage arcade games and mirrored columns, where the artwork echoes its surroundings. While she was carrying out research for the piece, it was the elements of sound, lighting and arcades that kept coming up in locals’ recollections of Dreamland, reaffirming the artist’s idea of using lights in the work itself. 

For Wilberforce, the warm glow and luminosity of the salvaged neon tubes represent the analogue of the lighting world, akin to her photographic film work. These fragile, historic lights are interspersed with coloured Perspex segments and transparency prints of everyday places, pointing to the manifestation and representation of Dreamland, the deconstruction and reconstruction of the site, as well as its enduring legacy as a place of spectacle.

The taut form of the sculpture is set against the colourful, chaotic neons that bounce and burst with reflections and re-reflections. The sculpture also interplays with the fluidity and translucency of the prints and the glow of the neons at various junctures. In so doing, it echoes contained and disruptive elements in the work. The result is the creation of a complex configuration of space, form and light, revealing myriad real and imaginary spaces with an ethereal quality.

The artist’s intention is that the work should represent a monument to our times, one that equally draws from the past, present and the future. For Wilberforce, the work also celebrates the delights of the British funfair and of seaside towns rediscovering their former glory.

About the artist
Rachel Wilberforce’s practice explores contemporary subjectivity through the relationship between spaces that might be considered ‘everyday’ and ‘other’. She is drawn to places with uncertain borders, sites on the edge, fleeting and precarious, or hovering between different histories, uses and meanings. Using photography, collage and installation, she prompts questions about our relationship to space and place, its representation, and historical and contemporary status.

Through explorations in spatiality and perception of sites, Wilberforce considers thresholds and demarcations, transitioning and overlapping identities and purposes, and the potential for our mind to dissociate space or reveal the transcendental. Much of her work reassembles and layers fragmented details (textures, found objects, architecture), where the work becomes at once historical and present, fictitious and real, liminal and fixed.

Rachel Wilberforce (b 1975) was awarded a Distinction in MA Fine Art from Chelsea College of Arts, London (2014). She has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, including Standpoint Gallery, Tate Modern, UpDown Gallery, Freud Museum, Open Eye Gallery, Courtauld Institute of Art, Leeds Art Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Limbo Substation Project Space, BFI Southbank, Stanley Picker Gallery, Van Abbemuseum and Ron Mandos Gallery. She was awarded the Rector’s Scholarship MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts (2014), shortlisted for WW Solo Award (2013) and The Salon Photography Prize (2011). Her work is part of Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade, Chaos Gallery and National Museums Liverpool collections. Wilberforce lives and works in London and Kent.

Above image: Rachel Wilberforce, Solaris, Detail (2015)
Perspex sculpture, coloured glass neons, Perspex segments, pigment transparency prints, Perspex and aluminium plinth, 216cm x 154cm x 154cm

Dreamland Margate
The re-imagined Dreamland will be a world-class UK visitor attraction, providing entertainment for everyone through truly re-inventing the famous seaside amusement park experience. Working in partnership with Sands Heritage Limited and Thanet District Council award-winning multidisciplinary designers HemingwayDesign led by Wayne Hemingway MBE, Gerardine Hemingway MBE and Jack Hemingway have been appointed to deliver the look, feel, smell, taste and sound of re-imagined Dreamland.

The new Dreamland will be a unique vintage-style amusement park with rides, classic side shows, eateries and evocative spaces set within a landscape capable of hosting national festivals, major events and visiting attractions.

The Dreamland project plays a significant role in community engagement, education, training, sustainable employment and boosting the local economy. It is also a major component in the continued regeneration of Margate, spearheaded by Turner Contemporary in 2011.

The Dreamland site is owned by Thanet District Council. The council, working with The Dreamland Trust, has secured a funding package of £18 million, which includes external funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Sea Change grant, to deliver the first phase of the project.

For further press information, please contact:
Laura McCarthy or Eliza Gregory
Dreamland Margate
49 Marine Terrace | Margate | Kent CT9 1XJ
T: +44 (0) 1843 295 887 
E: |


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