Date Posted: 20th October 2019

First of all, an apology. I was wrong when I told you the 3-venueTurner Exhibition – Northern Exposure – began in Harrogate. It actually began in Berwick on Tweed last May, continued to Carlisle where it opened yesterday and will continue until 5th January 2020 when it will move on to its final venue, The Mercer Gallery in Harrogate from 18th January to 18th April 2020.

The exhibition is full of atmosphere. Cumbria particularly delighted Turner despite it raining almost every day - so much so that he couldn’t see the fell tops shrouded in mist. It is hard to imagine the 22 year old Turner, a talented architectural draughtsman, deciding to undertake this epic and hazardous journey north. He had drawn and painted castles and important buildings on his own familiar patch in London and the south and had the instinctive feeling that there would be some good subjects further north which would lead to commissions and add to his income.  The thick leather bound sketch books he carried with him bear witness to the route he took in 1797 and show his emergence as an outstanding landscape painter. These are on display in the exhibition and mark his route, showing that he explored the east of Britain through Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland before moving west from Berwick on Tweed into Carlisle and Cumberland. This was the point at which he became a mountain and lake painter. You can witness it happening and share his excitement at what he had discovered. He returned several times to make more paintings.  Tullie House has enhanced the exhibition with the addition of several of those Cumbrian paintings they have sourced. I shall have to go back a few times to appreciate it properly but this I know – Turner was a master of landscape painting, a master at painting weather and a master at capturing light.

Most of you know that I am a great supporter of the family run Alhambra Cinema in Keswick. (It is now up for the prestigious UK Screen Award 2019).  When I mentioned the Turner show coming to Carlisle they readily agreed to put on 2 special showings of Mr Turner starring a harrumphing Timothy Spall as J M W turner himself. (Tuesday 19th November@ 5pm and Friday 22nd November @ 1PM).  I saw it there when it was released five years ago but have forgotten much of it so it will mean a lot more now when we have some of his original work so close. (there is a painting of Derwentwater and The Lodore Falls and another purported to be Derwentwater). There will be a short introduction from someone from the gallery at each showing (it will have to be short as the film is over 2 hours.) Tullie House are also showing the film in the lecture theatre 17th November @ 1.00pm if that is more convenient.

I can’t even start on the wonders of the Rembrandt exhibition now. Nor can I describe the impact of the Scottish Colourists at Abbot Hall; three different centuries, three different countries and three totally different top class exhibitions.  I will save those for next time.