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Saturday, 19 October 2013
Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature, Louisa Love: Matter of Matter, Dorothy Cross: Connemara, Rachel Johnston: Horizons of our Coast, Hannah Allison-Finucane: Untitled. Notes towards a review of the exhibitions at the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in Margate, October 2013.
The main exhibition “Turner and Constable: Sketching from
Nature” is 75 primarily landscape pictures painted between about 1770 and 1850.
Most of these paintings where wholly or partly painted in the field and most
are painted using oil paint.
This stems from the time that ready mixed oil paint became
available and artists were able to use it outside the studio without much
difficulty (not tubes then but various animal bladders). You will notice that a
lot of the paintings are painted in oil on paper and are fairly small.
In practical terms, watercolour dries quickly and doesn’t
smudge when you close the pad of paper, oil doesn’t so an oil on a bit of board
or on paper has to be protected until it is dried, this often takes weeks.
If you have a close look at an artists paint box that is
designed for painting outside you will see that the palate clips in the lid
leaving a space where the painting can sit without the brushes and tubes of
paint coming into contact with it and smudging it.
Tape a sheet of paper, (acrylic paper seems to be best for
this) inside the lid of your box and you can whack the oil paint straight on, the artists
in around 1800 would have had to prepare their paper – several coats of seize
or gesso for favourite – the W&N paper intended for painting acrylic paint
on doesn’t seem to need any preparation at all, and yes they do make paper
intended for painting oil paint on, but it is a bit on the slippery side.
Art from this period tends towards a scientific representation
of reality, later on the Victorian art tends to be more sentimental, and of
course the Victorians invented photography, which leans towards the scientific
I have reproduced the first few pictures in the exhibition
below I am a bit concerned about getting involved in copyright issues, The
Turner Contemporary press website isn’t doing what I should, so as all of the
paintings are on loan from the Tate Gallery I have linked to the images there.
1 John Constable Dedham from near Gun Hill, Langham c.1815
2 Joseph Mallord William Turner A Narrow Valley c.1807
3 George Stubbs Newmarket Heath, with a Rubbing-Down House c.1765
4 George Garrard Coombe Hill 1791
5 Sir George Howland Beaumont, Bt Landscape c. 1795 ??
6 Alexander Cozens Wooded Coast Scene date not known
7 Thomas Jones Naples: Buildings on a Cliff Top 1782
8 Thomas Jones Pencerrig 1776
I hope I have got the right pictures in the
right order, the exhibition catalogue doesn’t have the same numbers as the
pictures and although I have a list of the pictures numbered as they are
hanging in the gallery, there is an element of luck involved here.
Frankly 75 landscape pictures mostly executed in a fairly similar
style is difficult to take in in one go, it is very easy to muddle up the
artists in ones mind and as a bit of a slow thinker it will take me some time
and several visits to the exhibition before I really feel I have the measure of
Some of them with stately homes in the background put one
more than a little in mind of The Draughtsman's Contract, there is a frission
of sexual ambiguity between the ladies of the house and the artist there.
On to Louisa Love, "Matter of Matter" this is the largest of the graduate
exhibitions, taking up a whole room where Louisa is unpacking her studio in
what is something between performance art and going beyond the type of thing that has been done where the exhibit has been. What? The artist’s studio a mock
up of the artist’s studio.
The difference here being that some of the time the artist
is present and roughly speaking investigating the area where the artist stops
and the art starts. Fortunately photography is allowed in this one.
The pictures should expand – to fill the available space - when
clicked on compulsively.
On to Dorothy Cross: Connemara her video says it all really
On to Rachel Johnston; Horizons of our coast.
Finally Hannah Allison-Finucane: Untitled.
Worth going to? Well yes it is really, a good mix of
contemporary art and conventional oil paintings.
There is also Juan Muñoz: Conversation Piece III, in
the gallery, this has been there since March, so I guess most people will have
seen it. You know the weebly one, perhaps you don’t so here are some pictures
I have one main method of judging an exhibition
and this is did it make me want to go and sketch? Children in tow and therefore
Café G, it was that or MacDonald’s, the fayre the gallery’s café being to
complex and the weather too inclement for a picnic. Here is the sketch straight
after the gallery visit.
and here a photo of what I was trying to draw.
So what of the exhibitions, the main one 75 landscape oils,
frankly I would – if making a special journey – want to have prepared myself,
familiarised myself with the paintings, type of thing.
There is a list in the gallery although not anywhere I can
find on the internet, so I have taken it into the garden – like Maude? And
photographed it, all of the paintings came from the Tate and can be found –
descriptions and pictures of the pictures, by putting the name of the artist
and the name of the painting into the search box on their website http://www.tate.org.uk/search
I am afraid that going around galleries with “I know what I
like” in my head isn’t enough and although the exhibition is free, if you have
had the expense of travelling there and eating out, you my also wish to
approach the thing prepared in some way.