I had to share this with you, so inspired and excited am I by our recent little escapade to Canberra. A random last minute trip, but I didn’t hesitate, knowing it was a chance to see this Exhibition. My good friend and photographer Cade Turner is an HUGE fan of Turners work (if you ask me, a modern day reincarnation using a different medium – but Cade love is another blog for another day) and he raved about it.
I’m not hugely familiar with J.M.W Turner, but what little I did know included that the man was a master of light. That’s a pretty big call, not always true when people say it – but in this case, it’s the understatement of the century. I’m not going to waffle on too much (for a change), but simply share one of the first things that happened as we entered the Exhibition , and a few of my favourite images. (As an aside, I couldn’t believe how many people there were taking photographs, but mine are a bit crap as I still felt like a naughty school kid with a contraband iPhone!) Ok, so we walk in – and I was immediately struck by the depth of one piece – the light (obv.) the moodiness, the technique….and then my daughter Lanya (age 11) says to me, “Wow Mum, that painting is only a few years after Australia was ‘discovered.’
And it took my breath away, made me open my eyes in a completely different and proofed way. She was right, these pieces were beyond our accepted definition here of ‘historical.’ I wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of my Great great great greats … you get me? It was a snapshot of how I imagine I’ll feel when I walk the ground of Chartres Cathedral, or feel the Mayan ruins. We think we’re so clever with our savvy technology and our ‘innivative’ techniques and materials. We’re simply re-runs of a long long line before us…The collective consciousness of Creativity I often waffle about…here was a lynch pin among it.
Anywho, I digress and I waffle – I’ve made a career of it, but I will go and share my images with you. I was going to write a bit about each piece, what it meant, how I felt – but I won’t. I’ll let you have your own experience. Hopefully I’ve shared enough that you will want to see if for yourself. Do go if you get a chance. I’ll be posting soon about the trip to the National Portrait Gallery – it’s worthy of it’s own post..
About the exhibition (THE OFFICIAL STUFF)
J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851) is one of Britain’s greatest artists, a key figure of the Romantic generation. He is celebrated as a highly modern painter, his work much admired for its experimental character.
Turner’s paintings and watercolours are highly coveted by museums and collectors, and widely dispersed internationally. Only at the Tate can we gain a full sense of Turner’s aims and achievements. The artist’s gift to the British nation was originally limited to the finished paintings exhibited in his lifetime, many of which he retained or re-acquired with a view to his donation to the national collection. The larger settlement, after the artist’s death, meant these paintings were supplemented by the contents of his house and studio.
Turner from the Tate reflects the diversity of this unique collection. It provides a comprehensive overview of Turner and his artistic development, while offering extraordinary insights into his working life and practices. The exhibition consists of 40 oils complemented by 70 works on paper, from large watercolours to intimate sketches. Elsewhere in the exhibition we see how Turner set himself up as the heir to the European landscape tradition. Featuring remarkable paintings of Turner’s late career including the exquisite Venice, the Bridge of Sighs 1840, the exhibition culminates with powerful seascapes.
As well as many of Turner’s most famous paintings, Turner from the Tate highlights works never shown previously. The exhibition offers fresh perspectives on an artist who was valued as a master in his own time and whose impact was felt as far away as Australia.
Turner from the Tate: The Making of a Master is organised by Tate in association with Art Exhibitions Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia and National Gallery of Australia.