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.
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,
Hi I'm Carol Gillott,
My Mom taught me watercolors at 5 and I'm still at it. Now I live on l'Ile Saint-Louis by the Seine. Do consider subscribing to my Paris letters and maps on Etsy. Enjoy a taste of Paris in your mailbox every month. Savor with hot chocolate and a croissant. I paint Paris dreams.