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 representation.

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 it.  

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 of that. 

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

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.

So here are the pictures of the pages of the list sorry I didn’t have time to type it out   
I will add to this post as time becomes available 

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