Our opening exhibition brings together work by the visionary British painter JMW Turner and six contemporary artists.
We welcome visitors to the new gallery to see fantastic art works and spectacular spaces. The exhibition explores imagination, discovery, wonder and creativity. This spirit has also guided the building of the gallery from an idea into reality.
JMW Turner (1775 – 1851) visited Margate throughout his life. He used his imagination and experience of nature to create extraordinary paintings conjured from his mind’s eye and often stimulated by the light and landscape of the Kent coast.
The exhibition centres on Turner’s extraordinary painting The Eruption of the Souffrier Mountains, in the Island of St Vincent, at Midnight, on the 30th of April, 1812, from a Sketch Taken at the Time by Hugh P. Keane, Esqre ,1815, which portrays the drama of a volcanic eruption. Turner never saw the event, but was inspired to make the painting by Keane’s sketch and his interest in the natural world.
Turner’s painting is evidence of the power of his imagination and his curiosity about new places and natural phenomena. This desire for knowledge marked the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when many discoveries were made in science and technology and artists and scientists worked in close dialogue.
The six contemporary artists in the exhibition work in the same spirit of enquiry, invention and interest in the natural world that flourished during Turner’s lifetime. Just as Turner explored nature in paint and colour, so these contemporary artists play at the borders between what we can see and know and the truly fantastic. Four of the artists have made new work for the opening of Turner Contemporary. Like Turner, their work responds to the special setting of the gallery in Margate, on the North Kent coast.
During this exhibition photography in the galleries is permitted. Please refrain from using flash or tripods. Permission to take photographs for professional or commercial purposes must be obtained in advance from Turner Contemporary.
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Inspired by the light and sky that Turner so loved, Daniel Buren’s specially-commissioned work for the exhibition will dramatically intervene with the double-height gallery on the ground floor of the new building.
Ellen Harvey’s newly-commissioned work Arcadia will recreate to scale the gallery JMW Turner built to house his work. Viewers will enter a temporary structure where the paintings covering the walls at the time of Turner’s death will be replaced by illuminated depictions of Margate represented in minute detail.
Conrad Shawcross is fascinated by science and philosophy, and his work evokes the forces governing the universe. His dramatic new installation draws together a number of threads evident in his practice. A suspended rotating light sculpture will fill the gallery with shadows from a large bronze ‘tree’ sculpture, taking the form of a sound wave from a harmonic chord that appears to grow from the gallery floor. The harmonic form will appear in various guises in drawings created by a custom-built machine.
Conrad Shawcross discusses his work in Revealed and in general on BBC's Front Row programme 10 May 2011
Russell Crotty draws inspiration from his direct experiences as an amateur astronomer, surfer and nature enthusiast. His work reflects his observations of the land, sea and sky. Turner Contemporary will present a series of suspended globes and large books covered in meticulously drawn land and seascapes and astronomical maps. Many of the drawings will represent the Thanet coast alongside very different landscapes from other parts of the world.
Revealed will also include two works by Teresita Fernández: Sfumato (September 18) (2009) uses pieces of graphite and drawing on the wall to depict a rising cloud of smoke, while the floor piece Eruption (2005) represents the mouth of a volcano as seen from above .
Finally, the exhibition will include Douglas Gordon’s Afterturner, a poetic text piece responding to Turner’s mythic final words: ‘The sun is God.’ This text will lead visitors up the gallery’s main staircase.