Turner Exhibition

In the last few weeks our family has been to our capital (Canberra) for a Soccer competition. Now, whilst I admit that the soccer was very good – I love watching our goalie son do his thing – and Canberra itself is a fascinating city, one of the highlights was being able to go to the National Gallery of Australia to see Turner from the Tate. 

Family at the NGA

Here’s my family waiting to go in – it’s important to have the obligatory photo outside the gallery. I was excited but I wasn’t too sure if I was  going to love this exhibition. I should have known better, as just one step inside the gallery and I could feel my spirit lifting.

Turner's paints

I was fascinated upon entry! Firstly we were met with some last remaining pigments and tools used by Turner. I stood and imagined him mixing up his colours as he took in the scenery. You can learn so much by pondering an artist’s process.

Childe Harold’s pilgrimage – Italy, 1832

It was wonderful that we were permitted to take photos in the exhibition. These photos I took with my iPhone and even in the dim lighting they have come out ok. I took this photo for James, out son, as he loves to draw trees. Hopefully it will inspire him to investigate trees a little more.

Ely Cathedral: The interior of the Octagon, 1794
Pencil on paper

I was taken by the pencil sketches Turner made. In 1794. These are old and beautiful. Such clever detailed craftsmanship. These drawings were the preparations for his finished works.

One of Turner’s sketchbooks

Turner didn’t keep diaries but he did keep many sketchbooks. Over 300. Wow! I am struggling to keep one a year. Turner’s sketchbooks were a record of not only his artistic ventures but were a record of his travels, things he encountered and his life generally. He recorded the things he found to be remarkable. Sometimes he made quick pencil sketches and other times he made watercolour sketches. Each sketchbook was labelled and became part of his collection.

The harbour of Brest: The quayside and chateau, c.1826-28
oil on canvas

This is one of my favourites. I was mesmerised by the layers of mysteriousness. If you look up close you can see all kinds of  hustle and bustle and goings on. If you stand back you see landmarks fading into the mist gently lifting one away from the busy noise of a port.


I had to include this because it was most unusual. It’s kind of two paintings joined together. Turner developed a process of pre-painting his canvases with a misty sky and horizon. This is three landscapes joined together. I didn’t quite understand what had been done but I was drawn to the colours.

Sun setting over a lake, c. 1840 – 45
oil on canvas

And this, for me, was stunning. Encompassing everything that Turner is.  JP

2 thoughts on “Turner Exhibition

  1. I really want to get down to Canberra for this exhibition. Thanks for sharing what you thought of it – only makes me want to go more! 🙂

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