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  • JMW Turner, The New Moon or I've lost My Boat,
    You shan't have Your Hoop, 
    exhibited 1840, Oil on mahogany
    Courtesy of Tate Image © Tate, London 2010
Sat 28 Jan - Sun 13 May 2012

'Magnificent paintings worth crawling on your hands and feet to Margate to see' 
Novelist and Psychogeographer Iain Sinclair reviews Turner and the Elements
on Radio 4 Front Row

'Quietly magnificent'
The arts desk, 30 January

JMW Turner, Britain’s best-loved painter, created new and unusual combinations of earth, water, air and fire and closely examined their interactions.

In Turner and the Elements, our first major show of the painter’s work at Turner Contemporary, we explore the important role that the depiction of the elements played in his landscape watercolours and paintings.

The exhibition brings together 88 works; 76 watercolours and 12 late oil paintings, many from the Tate collection. Turner’s innovative painting technique and the influence of scientific and technological developments during his lifetime were to revolutionise landscape painting.

Today, nearly two centuries since Turner’s visits to Margate, see first-hand how his dynamic concept of landscape, unconventional use of colour and near abstract watercolours and paintings secured his place as the artist of the elements and the founder of modern landscape painting.

Works on display include Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth exhibited 1842 and The New Moon; or ‘I’ve lost My Boat, You shan’t have Your Hoop’ exhibited 1840. Turner’s frequent visits to Margate and the Kent coast are vividly portrayed, with particular works chosen especially for the exhibition’s time at Turner Contemporary.

Curated by Inés Richter-Musso and Ortrud Westheider, the exhibition is the only opportunity to see this selection of works by Turner together in the UK.

Turner and the Elements is organised in collaboration with Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg and The National Museum, Cracow.

“The artist delights to go back to the first chaos of the world, or to that state of things when the waters were separated from the dry land, and light from darkness, but as yet no living thing nor tree bearing fruit was seen upon the face of the earth”.
Art critic William Hazlitt commenting on Turner’s work, 1816 

"This is the moment I've been waiting for, for ten years - bringing a whole exhibition of Turner's work to Margate" Director Victoria Pomery

Admission to the exhibition is free. There is no need to book for this exhibition, although we do advise that schools and groups book in advance due to the popularity of the exhibition. Contact our Learning team at or call 01843 233012.

There is a no photography policy throughout the duration of this exhibition. 

Utterly uplifting' 
Alastair Sooke, The Telegraph, 31 January

'It is Turner at his most brilliant' Laura Cumming, The Observer , 28 January 

'Of the several Turner shows opening in 2012, this may be the most exhilarating. Start here.'
Laura Cumming, The Observer, 28 January

'Turner and the Elements is a visual joy and an intellectual pleasure.'
'Quietly magnificent'
The arts desk, 30 January

'Set against the backdrop of a bright and crisp winter’s day, a visit to Turner Contemporary is a refreshing taste of nature outside the busy London environment. The natural light penetrates the gallery space imbuing the works with a life-like quality and the simplicity of display highlights the work of Turner in an innovative way. Turner’s influence throughout subsequent art history is obvious in the work of the Impressionists, but beyond the nineteenth century, the paintings remain dynamic and exciting for artists interested in depicting place.'
Emily Sack, Aesthetica  2 February 2012 

‘It seems apt that an exhibition so clearly focused on the more hidden and experimental aspects of his art should have been staged in the town that was, more than any other, his bolt-hole from convention.’

**** Andrew Graham-Dixon, The Telegraph, 5 Feb 2012 

BBC Radio 4 Front Row

The Guardian

ITV Meridian

The Telegraph (Alastair Sooke)

The Telegraph (Andrew Graham-Dixon) 

Exhibition Catalogue and Audio Guide

Exhibition catalogue
Get the definitive Turner and the Elements publication for just £35 in our shop.

This hardback catalogue includes in-depth essays on the artist's fascination with the elements, as well as beautiful reproductions of the works on show. Includes James Hamilton's contribution on how Turner 'used science to paint the sun', referred to in The Guardian and on Radio 4.

Find more Turner inspired merchandise in our Shop, open Tuesday to Sunday and bank holidays 10am - 6pm, including postcards, glassware, jewellery, scarfs, mini prints and posters. 

Audio Guide
There is an audio guide that accompanies the exhibition, available to purchase for £4 per use. The guide lasts approximately 50 minutes. 

Turner 'used science to paint the sun' The Guardian 13 November 2011

In this article, distinguished Turner biographer James Hamilton says that 'Turner's sun was more than art – it was almost experimental science'. Read this fascinating article here.
Hamilton's essay 'Turner and the New Understanding of Nature 1800-1850' features in the Turner and the Elements exhibition catalogue, available to buy from our shop.
Also see the BBC article 'Artist Turner eavesdropped for ideas' here and and on Radio 4

Exhibition sponsors

Turner Contemporary is grateful to its exhibition sponsors.

London Array
London Array is currently the world’s largest consented offshore windfarm project. It is being built 20km off the Kent coast in the outer Thames Estuary. Construction on Phase One of the development is due to be complete by the end of 2012. It includes 175 turbines with a combined capacity of 630MW, generating enough energy to power around 472,500 homes. A proposed second phase would bring total capacity up to 1,000MW. The London Array could eventually power up to 750,000 homes. London Array is being developed by a consortium with the following shareholdings: DONG Energy (50%), E.ON (30%) and Masdar (20%).

Shepherd Neame
Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewer and is based in Faversham, Kent. It brews such popular ales as Spitfire and Bishops Finger as well as international lagers under licence, including Asahi and Oranjeboom. It operates an estate of more than 350 pubs, inns and hotels in the South East and is Kent’s largest independent accommodation provider. The Faversham
Brewery’s Visitor Centre is a popular tourist destination and, together with The Old Brewery Store, Shepherd Neame can accommodate conferences and events for up to 400 people. The company is delighted to support Turner Contemporary in its role as a key player in Kent’s cultural regeneration. 


Win an overnight VIP trip and £500 for your school with London Array
The challenge is to come up with a name for the third and final crew transfer vessel, supplied by Gardline, to service London Array from the wind farm's base at Ramsgate Port. Students can be as creative as they like, to enter visit

Save 15% on accommodation with Shepherd Neame
Enjoy an overnight stay at the Royal Albion Broadstairs, Fayreness Broadstairs or Bell Hotel Sandwich between 28 January and 13 May and save money. Redeemable on telephone bookings only. Visit

Turner Tour of Kent

To celebrate our Turner and the Elements exhibition, we have commissioned artist Stephen Turner to look at JMW Turner’s relationship with Kent.

Stephen has selected 10 images that show the breadth of Turner’s work in Kent and invite readers to travel to a number of locations around the county visited by the artist himself.

Download the tour from the bottom of this page and travel through Turner's Kent... 

Our media sponsor for Turner and the Elements, The Independent, have written a review of the tour, read it here



Media partner:


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Left by viv chapman on Wed 13 Apr 2011

Have just attended a preview of the gallery this evening. You have achieved an incredible thing for Margate, and the South East, a world class exhibition space in an unsurpassable setting--and what an evening to see the Gallery for the first time! Turner would have been out there with his paints and canvas trying to capture that sunset! Great exhibits, great Gallery.

Left by Hannah Mckay [ ] on Fri 23 Nov 2012

A really inspiring exhibit when we went six months ago. Went with my partner and he really liked the work - surprising from a non art-buff!

Lovely exhibition.

Left by Doug Carpenter [ ] on Tue 13 Mar 2012

A must see Turner exhibition and gallery for all admirers of Briton's greatest artist

Left by Keith & Angela Bendell on Tue 8 May 2012

We visited the Turner and the elements on Sunday, fantastic. A well laid out and utterly enthraling experience. Thank you.