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28 October 2014

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Theatre and Arts

Hulks on the Tamar by JMW Turner

Light into Colour

A new exhibition at The Tate St Ives brings together the work JMW Turner did in Cornwall. It's the first time that Turner's South West paintings has been gathered together in the county.

JMW Turner visited Cornwall early in the 19th Century. He toured the county in 1811.

The Tate St Ives has brought his South West work to Cornwall for the first time in an exhibition that has been curated by Turner expert Professor Sam Smiles.

Lands End
Land's End by JMW Turner

The work produced in Cornwall and West Devon occurred at an important stage in Turner's development. His maturity as an observer of English topography had secured him the commission to produce a series of watercolours for engraving as Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England.

In the summer of 1811 he travelled round the coast of the West of England, recording what he saw. This trip provided him not merely with images of tranquil landscape and historic buildings; it was also a place of modern occupations, ranging from quarrying, lime manufacture and fishing to large-scale naval preparations in the war against Napoleon.

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)

Turner's first job was as an assistant to an architect. When he was 14-years-old Turner decided to become an artist, and began to study at the schools of the Royal Academy. His early work consisted of drawings and watercolours on paper; it was some years before he felt ready to start painting in oils.

Hamoaze by JMW Turner

Turner exhibited his first oil painting at the Royal Academy, Fishermen at Sea, in 1796, when he was just 21-years-old. Success came relatively early, and in 1803, at the age of 27, he began work on the spacious gallery in his house in Harley Street. It not only advertised his achievements, but provided a more sympathetic setting for some pictures than the crowded walls of the Great Exhibition Room at the Royal Academy.

He continued to exhibit at the RA and, unlike a number of other British artists, Turner remained involved with the Academy throughout his career. He become an Associate Member in 1799, and a full Member in 1802, as well as being elected Professor of Perspective in 1811, and appointed acting President in 1845.

In his later life he began sending to the Academy exhibitions unfinished canvases which one contemporary described as being 'without form and void, like chaos before the creation'. He would then complete them in the exhibition room on 'Varnishing Days', virtuoso performances which soon became legendary.

Light into Colour - Turner in the South West

The new exhibition includes examples of Turner's work in all media (oil paintings, oil sketches, watercolours, pencil sketches and notebooks) providing spectators with a rounded exposure to his different working methods.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, written by the exhibition curator, Professor Sam Smiles of the University of Plymouth, who is the authority on Turner's work in the West Country.

The exhibition launches on Friday 28 January and runs until 7 May 2006.

Following its showing in St Ives the exhibition will travel to Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery.

last updated: 27/01/06
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