Thursday, October 13, 2016

JMW Turner:Adventures in Colour, John Akomfrah's Vertigo Sea - Turner Contemporary, Margate UK

Last week at this time I was in Margate in the UK previewing the new terrific JMW Turner and color exhibit at Turner Contemporary. This week I've been trying to paint watercolors like Turner (see above)...ahem.
The museum was built exactly on the spot of Mrs. Sophia Booth's boarding house frequented by Turner more times than I can count. They were 'an item' you could say.
Inside you're looking at exactly the same views Turner saw and painted frequently, so its quite thrilling even on a grey, cloudy day. Not that Turner was one to shrink from painting grey, cloudy days. All kinds of weather was his favorite subject.
I saw the same exhibit in June in Aix-en-Provence but the rooms were so dark, and all descriptions in French. I felt I had to see it in better surroundings. Being in Turner's home away from home, Margate, made a huge difference.
And many of the paintings are of Margate. We were not to shoot very close because nearly everything belongs to the National Trust.
We were lucky indeed to have Ian Warrell take us round, one of the top Turner experts. Many 'new' Turners were discovered during and just after the Second World War. They were found whilst taking inventory, lurking in museum storage rooms covered in dust cloths neglected. What a lovely surprise!
Of course I was glued to the case holding Turner's travel set made of leather of all things. As an aid he made little post-it like pads of paper to test out color swatches. Brilliant.
Love this wall panel of miscellaneous information.
I did catch a few shots of Turner's marvelously atmospheric watercolors.
But they're near Impossible to capture with all the reflections bouncing hither and thither still you get the idea. Turner was completely innovative at capturing atmosphere and weather with layers of washes, sometimes made by dipping the paper in paint, (called 'color beginnings') working on several at one time. Critics of the time drew cartoons ofTurner painting with a giant mop on his canvas.
It's said Turner tied himself to the ship's mast to experience all kinds of weather the better to paint them. Not my cup of tea. He made something like 25 foreign tours between 1817-1845. That's much more appealing. He was constantly searching and testing out new pigments and papers. A particular blue-grey paper he used may have been to curb strong reflections from the sun. Well if you will insist on tying yourself to a ship's mast...
The exhibit ends dramatically on a series of swirling vortex pictures and a ' Great Deluge' painting of a sinking ship. Strangely you hear the ocean crashing behind you.
The next room over, John Akromfrah's triple screen,'Vertigo Sea' perfectly dovetails into the Turner exhibit.
A shattering visual meditation on man's destruction of the sea, whaling, immigrants, climate change.
Powerful. The perfect companion to the Turner exhibit.
I ran out after the preview to look for classic fish and chips in Margate.
I settled on dressed crab though I wouldn't have minded undressed crab either.
The Shell Grotto is another must-do in Margate.
A mysterious subterranean passage no one can quite explain but well worth seeking out. I loved Margate and hope to return when skies are blue and sunny. A typical British seaside town just 1h25 train ride from London. Do consider going to the Turner Adventures in Colour on till January 8, 2017.
By the way there's a new mess of watercolors up on Etsy.Thanks for reading Parisbreakfast! If you like this post and want to support it, 
buy my Paris letters and watercolors or forward this to someone who might enjoy it. Cheers!

22 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:04 PM

    What an exquisite exhibition! I am thinking of commissioning you to do a painting of me from my recent trip to Paris. One of the highlights, of course, was getting to meet you at long last. Let's talk about my idea. Cheers, Stephan

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  2. How heavenly! Every time I go to Washington I visit the peacock room he designed...so different from his watercolors. I have long wished to emulate his work...and even discovered that the original manufacturer of the watercolors he travelled with still makes them! http://www.turnersartshop.co.uk/pip-seymour-turner-palette-18c-watercolour-disc-set-6249-p.asp
    Have not splurged for them since I doubt the pigment alone will help my work, but it is fun to see what he used. I have learned since discovering the watercolors that he was notoriously stingy about paying for supplies!

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    1. Ha I know Pip Seymore and sought him out when I was working on my watercolor medium formula. His stuff is all at Jackson's Art Supply mentioned in the previous post.

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    2. Hmmm...I don't see the viridian green included among the colors Ian told us. Any paints called 'apricot' are suspect IMHO unless made from apricot pits. Stick with the colors you've got and like. There is no magic formula other than practice practice practice.

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    3. Carol, can you tell us a little bit more about your watercolor medium ... and how you use it? :-) Thank you!

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    4. Sorry to have missed this Artist lady...there's a bit about it here
      http://parisbreakfasts.blogspot.fr/2006/08/carnets-de-voyage.html
      Or you can email me for more info.

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  3. I love your watercolour in the style of Turner. The National Trust is a gem, well worth supporting. The National Trust is a NGO that conserves 'heritage' everything really old buildings, countryside there must be something like that in America not sure what it is called. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  4. Wow, Carol, I thank you so much for journeying to Margate and sharing this reporting of what you saw there.

    I'm sure you saw the Turner film, with its scene of Turner on the mast (Tim Spall in a great performance as a not very sweet man who nonetheless was a great painter.) Being able to see the traveling paint kit and some other Turner possessions would definitely have interested me. I've always like to see the sketchbooks, and watercolors and materials on display at the Tate much more than the grand oil paintings.

    It looks to me as if you have found much inspiration on your journey across the Channel. xo

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    1. Turner was a magician!
      Inspiring and daunting..

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  5. Anonymous10:42 PM

    Hi ,I was wondering how can I tell when my subscription to the Paris maps runs out? I did not get one for September. I don't have any way of knowing when I started. Maybe around Christmas last year.Thanks Cookie Swetland Oregon

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    1. Thank You, Carol! I ordered a few things from ZAZZLE for early holiday shopping. They arrived so quickly and are really wonderful! You are amazing! Thanks again from Oregon!

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  6. Allie7:49 AM

    Very nice Turneresque watercolors.

    Not an easy feat.

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  7. I think it's great! And I love the way the blonde lady looks:)Just right.

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  8. I'm fascinated with watercolors lately and have been trying to learn. Do you think Turner's watercolors were brighter at the time he painted them and they have faded through the years? They look very soft.

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    1. Turner definitely used some fugitive pigments, because he tried out and used every new one that became available. The neglected paintings found in storage had not been over exposed to light so were a big discovery. So much mystery to Turner's work both intrinsically and material-wise.

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  9. I love your watercolor a la Turner at the start - I'm sure the exhibit was very inspirational & educational - so glad you got to go.

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  10. Kathryn11:22 PM

    I LOVE YOUR WATERCOLOR!!!!!!! You are an incredible artist. You can paint anything!

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  11. Owls Head11:32 PM

    Turner is my favorite! For many years now I have perused Turner books and disappeared into the mists of his paintings. Your watercolors are wonderful!
    Huge thanks for taking us to Margate!

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  12. I remember a few months ago going to the Tate Britain with my husband and seeing their extensive Turner exhibit. His works are gorgeous but after a while of nothing but Turners (it looked like it wouldn't end!) we fled to where all the Pre-Raphaelite paintings were.

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  13. Envious! How I would love to see Turner's works in person -- Your paintings are gorgeous too!

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  14. Great photo essay, Carol.
    Turner is one of my absolute favorites.

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  15. Years ago I dragged my mom to the Tate to see the Turners because I felt he painted the way I think. He was very scared when she saw and heard that! I love his work and would love this exhibit. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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