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Artists Travels

Turner from the Tate in Canberra — part 2

I mentioned before about the Turner exhibition in Canberra. Last time I posted about his watercolour paintings. This time I would like to show you a few of his oil paintings. His oils are very popular. Apparently his work, The fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth before being broken up 1838, was voted the most popular painting in the National Gallery in London. (It was not in the Canberra exhibition.)

The camera battery was about to expire, so I didn’t take many photos of the oil paintings.

Turner was was a mature artist when he first visited Italy in 1819, after the Napoleonic Wars. The quality of light was an inspiration to him. (I wonder what the impact would have been if he had been younger and less experienced.) The light in this painting of Venice is amazing.

Venice -- Maria della Salute (Exhibited 1844)
Venice — Maria della Salute (Exhibited 1844)

The sea fascinated him as well. In his later years he spent much of his time at Margate, where he studied the interplay of light, atmosphere and waves in many different conditions. In this next painting you can see the crashing waves, the lighthouse and the town caught in a yellow glow. Above it all is the maelstrom of the clouds.

Waves breaking on a lee shore at Margate, c. 1840
Waves breaking on a lee shore at Margate, c. 1840

Sun setting over a lake. What an ordinary title for such an extraordinary painting. This next one needed time for things to reveal themselves. Out of the mists the mountains and ridges emerge. Is the shore there? Maybe that is a boat. The complexity of the painting is staggering — and the beauty is overwhelming!

Sun setting over a lake 1840 - 1845
Sun setting over a lake 1840 – 1845

This last painting to show you was very moving. It is A disaster at sea, c. 1835? Its alternative title is The wrecked female convict ship, the Amphitrite: women and children abandoned in a gale. That tells you much of the story, but not all of it. The Amphitrite was transporting British female convicts and their children to Australia when it was wrecked off the French coast. The ship’s captain refused French help to save the women, because he had orders to only land them in New South Wales.

A disaster at sea c. 1835?
A disaster at sea c. 1835?

This painting needed a place in this blog for a few reasons. Firstly it is a powerful painting of such a needless tragedy. Secondly, I like the idea of these women and children finally arriving. To reach NSW, even as a painting, completes a circle for me. Thirdly, it has resonances with the refugees who are coming here by boat today — drownings at sea, orders that are cruel and inhumane, an acceptance that some lives are worth more than others.

Categories
Travels

Canberra

I travelled up to Canberra recently, to see the Turner exhibition. More of that in a later post.

For those of you out of Australia, you may not know that Canberra is our capital city. Our federal government is here, along with many public offices and building like the High Court. Unlike most cities, it is deliberately planned. The Australian states federated in 1901. There was debate about whether the capital should be Melbourne or Sydney, with a third option to build a city half way between the two. (Actually it is not half way — Melbourne is 660 kms and Sydney is only 280 kms. The rivalry continues!) So we have Canberra.

Following an international contest for the city’s design, a blueprint by the Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913.[4] The Griffins’ plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centred around axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory. (From Wikipedia)

For those of you in Australia, no, I didn’t hear any knives being sharpened or deals being done! But I am sure that some of that was going on.

It is a good city to be a tourist in. Its design is lovely. Lake Burley Griffin in a feature that can be seen from many places. Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain are nature parks, with native animals and many other spaces are beautifully treed. Design continues to be a feature. Many of the new buildings, such as the National Museum, are are interesting.

And there is lots to see. Here is my list of the things we visited

It also included getting lost a few times, because, what is a visit to Canberra without being confused on the roads. Thank heavens for roundabouts!

Parliament House. Which party will be in government there after September 7th? (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2009)
Parliament House. Which party will be in government there after September 7th? (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2009)
Lake Burley Griffen (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2009)
Lake Burley Griffen (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2009)
Looking, from the top of Parliament House, down to the Old Parliament House, across the lake, to the War Memorial. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2009)
Looking, from the top of Parliament House, down to the Old Parliament House, across the lake, to the War Memorial. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2009)