Today, my husband, Graham, and I went to the Adelaide Art Gallery to take in the Turner from the Tate exhibition. This exhibition closes soon, and Graham was very keen that I go along and get myself some culture. I’m not averse to seeing a bit of visual art, so when we realised I was free today, away we went.
The artworks on display varied very much in size, style and subject. Turner seems to have been quite precocious with his painting, beginning very early with works that are amazingly adult in their execution. His work was certainly not loved by all, and many other visual artists at the time (born 1775 – died 1851), derided his work as shapeless blobs that could be hung any way up, and it would still mean nothing.
He did paint in a variety of styles, there were landscapes that looked exactly like trees and paddocks and mountains. There were also other works that suggested mountains, and passion and heat, in interesting ways. I enjoyed the huge range – there were around 100 paintings there to be seen. There was also a lot of information to read.
This was interesting, giving insight into the way Turners works were accepted, or not accepted. He had his fans, those who appreciated his work, but many who did not. I can only say that I enjoyed his artistic knowledge of light, and loved his treatment of Nature’s beauties. Mountains, yes, but also the sun and moon, the sea and other waters, and he had a lovely way of showing the mightiness of the sky and its clouds. I am not at all talented in this way – my lack of ability to draw embarrasses me sometimes. But I know what I like, and I certainly liked taking the artistic abilities of Turner.
Two paintings in particular struck me – one a very early one of a nude, done when Turner was still a young teenager. This struck me as being so mature a work – when I think of the kind of thing most teenagers would do, I am in awe of his maturity and ability. The other work is of a shipwreck, and the subject of the painting is so poignant for Australians to be looking at.
The ship is one that is just started on its way to New South Wales, loaded with women prisoners and children. I’m not sure whether the children were ‘villians’ or offspring of the women. Tragically though, they all died. The Captain and crew lived, escaping from the sinking ship, and refusing to help the others. A truly shocking story, that has some echoes in Australia’s current ‘illegal’ arrival issues.
I did not do my exercises this morning, but wandering around this exhibition exercised both my mind and my body. I was grateful there were plenty of places to sit and observe inside the gallery – I certainly needed to sit down and observe a lot by the end. We went from the very earliest paintings up to those that were done within a year or so of his death.
I had a good rest after we arrived home – I needed to rejuvenate my body, and give my mind a rest too, and a chance to further consider all I had seen. I think tomorrow there may well be a new poem about something from this cultural visit.