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J.M.W. Turner and Politics

A one hour illustrated lecture was given last night at Plymouth University by Professor Sam Smiles on the painter J.M.W. Turner.
As J.M.W. Turner has been a hero of mine since my early days as a student in the 1960’s at Maidstone College of Art and Turner is also known for his marine painting, I had to go.
At Maidstone College of Art I was told, don’t look at Turner, terrible and old art.
Happily as it turned out, chose to ignore that advice.
Happily partly because the work and life of J.M.W. Turner has been a life long inspiration to me and because he was one of my “A” level History of Art questions so ever since I have felt he helped me pas my “A” level with flying colours at the tender age of 17, thank you Mr. Turner.
J.M.W. Turner has continued to this day to influence my fine art, as a person, as a painter and especially for his ideas about subjects.
I have more books on J.M.W. Turner than any other artist.
Thus the lecture on Turner and Politics was a must do.
I heard about the lecture from my good friend the painter David Folley who generously gave me a ticket.
Professor Sam Smiles is closely associated with the Tate Gallery, London.
He said that he wanted to be a water colour artist but seeing the work of Turner gave up!
Anyway, Professor Sam Smiles has not wasted his talents, rather redirected them.
For the Tate Gallery he has recently written a book on Turner.
Unfortunately at present I don’t have the details of Professor Sam Smiles new book on J.M.W. Turner.
Do you, please let me know, thanks?
The lecture started with an intro into Turner’s early life and influences continuing with examples of his developing interest in Politically Motivated Painting including analogies between the wars of Carthage and Rome, the rise and fall of Carthage, Hannibal crossing the Alps etc and how that related to England and the Napoleonic War fought during Turner’s life time, then moving on to include Turner and other major subjects topical in his day, slavery, inhuman treatment of our fellows in general, the clash between making money and quality of life.
Nor was there a mention for Turner’s considerable support for his fellow artists or his influence on subsequent painters.
Maybe you agree all still strong, heavy stuff today and tomorrow?
I was surprise Turner and the Industrial Revolution was barely mentioned and for me the lecture was revision, still worth while and stimulating though.
I have already had a long conversation about the lecture with the landscape and portrait painter David Folley, about Turner’s history, choices and values and how those might apply to the artists of today.
You can find out more if you wish via Peninsula Arts at www.peninsula-arts.co.uk and email penisula-arts@nullplymouth.ac.uk, kindly mention Gordon Frickers or leave your comments here on this blog.
We appreciate there was a time limit for Professor Sam Smiles so he could only speak generally, inevitable missing out significant areas of Turner’s interests and work, never the less, a worth while lecture, stimulating, well done and thank you Professor Sam Smiles and Plymouth University.