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Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End, from the North-East by J. M. W. Turner

In association with Tate Gallery, over the next few months, we will be giving our Tutors the chance to pick an art work from the Tate Collection and tell us why they think it is interesting and important to them. Our first Tutor to pick a painting is Jack Davis who tells us below about J. M. W. Turner’s Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End, from the North-East.

For me J. M. W. Turner remains the greatest painter to ever live. His practice continually evolved and pushed the boundaries of the art of his time. He demonstrates remarkable ability and skill across different painting mediums which is yet to be repeated by another artist. Capturing light as his subject matter he channels the dramatic energy of nature and creates a sublime interpretation of time and place.

 

Longships Lighthouse, Land's End, from the North-East, c.1834 from studies for Published 'England and Wales' Subjects. Watercolour on paper. 428 x 580 mm. © Tate, London 2018

Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End, from the North-East, c.1834 from studies for Published ‘England and Wales’ Subjects. Watercolour on paper. 428 x 580 mm. © Tate, London 2018

 

Turner’s watercolour ‘Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End, from the North-East’ really demonstrates his mastery of paint. Creating depth and distance though the use of contrast and direction of marks, the viewer feels as if they are in a vortex or tunnel and he is guiding us to explore, not only the outward environment but also our internal environment. Using his hands to create marks there is a frantic energy on the paper, like a conductor to the orchestra you can envisage him on the rocks completely engrossed in the painting.

I see the unpainted surface of the paper as bright light of sea and sky and he is employing paint to depict mid and dark tones for clouds, land and depressions in the surface of the water. The composition leads your eye across the painting from left to right focusing on the glimpse of headland or lighthouse in the distance. I enjoy the ambiguity of this watercolour and believe it has parallels with some of Rothko’s paintings where the viewer is transported into a void of inner reflection.

From my first days painting, Turner has inspired me, attracted to the unconquerable force of nature I love the dramatic environment of the West Penwith coast where I now live. I was drawn to Cornwall from my hometown of Bath because of the light and horizon over the sea. I see the landscape as a brutal place that is raw and untamed, expressing this energy into my paintings is important to me.

Jack Davis has a solo show at the Crypt Gallery, Norway Square, St Ives, Cornwall from 31st March to 13th April. Jack teaches on our Expressive Landscape and One Week Landscape courses.

 

Crash, Bang, Wallop - oil on canvas by Jack Davis

Crash, Bang, Wallop – oil on canvas by Jack Davis

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