Turner in Dorset at Sladers Yard

THE new exhibition at Sladers Yard, the gallery and arts venue in West Bay, celebrates the connections between the great 19th century artist JMW Turner and the West Country, particularly Dorset.

There is an opportunity to learn more at a talk with slides by Turner expert Nick Reese, at Sladers Yard on Friday 12th July at 6.30pm, followed by dinner in Sladers Yard’s cafe.

The exhibition, which runs to 8th September, coincides with Turner’s watercolour painting of West Bay entitled Bridport, Dorsetshire, being on loan to Bridport Museum.

Igniting Sight explores how Turner’s influence lives on in the work of six leading contemporary artists – Fred Cuming, Luke Elwes, Vanessa Gardiner, Frances Hatch, Janette Kerr and Alex Lowery, all of whom to some extent belong in the English Romantic tradition which began with Turner’s truly great paintings. Each artist finds in Turner their own key to “transform their paintings into poetry”, says gallery owner Anna Powell, whose husband, furniture designer-maker Petter Southall is also exhibiting, alongside the distinguished Dorset potter Richard Batterham.

Richard Holmes, the Romantic biographer, describes how Royal Academician Fred Cuming “reinvent[s] the world through colour,” to paint “both a recognisable place, which can be visited; and yet a completely transformed object of poetic intensity.”

For Fred Cuming, Turner has long been an acknowledged influence, alongside Constable. Fred has always painted outdoors as much as possible and his ability to capture the magic of light effects on sea, sky and mountains cannot fail to bring Turner to mind.

Sladers Yard regular Vanessa Gardiner recalls at her parents’ house that there were two colour-tinted etchings of Boscastle and Beeny in Cornwall, made after Turner’s watercolours: “Both were exquisitely observed. The precipitous cliffs were depicted in an exaggeratedly high manner.” Both have been recurring themes in Vanessa’s paintings over many years, as have other precipitous locations Turner painted on his West Country tours such as Pentargon, Trevalga and Godrevy.

For Janette Kerr, ”Turner was the first of the abstract painters, to whom I owe a huge debt.” His late works, she says, “could have been made yesterday – surfaces of loosely scumbled paint and scratched lines holding the full sound and fury of the sea.” Her words could describe her own work as well as his.

Pictured: Nick Reese with Bridport, Dorsetshire, currently on loan to Bridport Museum; Sierra Nevada, by Fred Cuming.