NGA: Turner from the TATE

Review: Exhibition at the NGA 2013

Turner From The Tate
exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, June – September 2013.

Having visited this exhibition three times while it was in Canberra , once in Adelaide and having five times visited Turner in the Tate in London, I have been contemplating these experiences and offer the following comments as a review.

If you click on the image above – you will go to an insider’s story on this exhibition.

I do not intend to go over the history of Turner. For that I recommend that you get hold of the catalogue. It is a very good read and well illustrated.

While there had been Turner exhibitions brought to Australia on several previous occasions, some of the media releases implored people to come to this exhibition as it contained works not before seen in Australia. This I more or less understood.

I was puzzled that people were not being encouraged simply to come as the works were great and any Turner exhibition guarantees a great visual and emotive experience. I suggest that the marketing concept should have been that even if you had seen any Turner exhibitions before, then it would always make sense to come to this exhibition simply because Turner is important and his works are always totally engaging. Why wouldn’t you want to visit such an exhibition again and again and again.

Even amongst people I know I sensed a doubt about whether a journey to Canberra, or even across town, was worth it. Something strange has happened to the visual arts audience. This exhibition of so many of Turner’s work was here in Australia and you did not have to get to London to enjoy such an experience.

Even if you were interested in contemporary arts, you would want to see more of one of the major influences. If you had seen some of the Turners before, it was worth the visit to sit and to allow the power of his imagination to engulf you. (if only they had more seats available).


I have to admit, that on my first visit to the Tate London I was blown away by these works. I stayed in that room for about an hour. I have been fortunate enough to have returned to the TATE and to have had the time to sit and experience Turner’s views on our world.

Last February I made the special trip to Adelaide to see the exhibition (and to go to the Neil Young concert). The Arts Gallery of South Australia did a very good job on the exhibition hang.

Once the exhibition moved to the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) here in Canberra, I was in there three times and in retrospect, I wish had made the effort just one more time. The exhibition hang at the National Gallery was so typical of so many of their exhibitions.  The NGA really knows how to do an exhibition hang well. It was beautiful. Well done NGA.

The watercolours were in a special room to one side and I think everyone I saw had their breath taken away. It was a joy to stand and take in his beautiful and so subtle brush work. The man was a genius. This was the first time I had really appreciated his watercolours and for this I thank the NGA exhibition curators.

The exhibition was intelligently brought together. This exhibition provided a fascinating experience time and time again. I hope you managed to see this exhibition. Well done to all concerned.

A very big thanks to those in the NGA who provided this moving opportunities to experience Turner again.


recently in the Guardian – another Turner Exhibition

PS: I am open to air tickets to visit London and review this or any other exhibitions.


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