Turner Laing Art Gallery

Two Weeks Until Turner Exhibit Opens at Laing Art Gallery

There are only two weeks until the Laing Art Gallery will host an exhibition of one of the world´s greatest artists, JMW Turner

As part of National Treasures, a programme marking the National Gallery´s 200 anniversary, the Laing will exhibit one of the most important paintings in the country.

Joining this incredible loan will be over 20 additional works by Turner, as well as works from artists such as L.S. Lowry (1887-1976), Tacita Dean b.1965), and photographers John Kippin (b.1950) and Chris Killip (1946-2020)  

Turner: Art, Industry & Nostalgia will explore in detail the themes of The Fighting Temeraire that highlight the connection between this iconic image and the history of Tyneside.

Turner Laing Art Gallery

In the 2012 film Skyfall, James Bond exploits the idea of industry and nostalgia by meeting the new Q in front of the painting depicting a retired naval vessel on its last journey.

While Turner may not have based the steamboat in the picture on a specific vessel, it is particularly pertinent to the Northeast and its industrial heritage that the two steam tugboats that pulled the Temeraire in reality – the Samson and the London – were both manufactured on Tyneside. 

Turner depicted several north-east views during his lifetime and the exhibition showcases several examples, including Holy Island, Northumberland (about 1829, V&A), a watercolour he made ten years before The Fighting Temeraire which offers an insight into Turner´s interests such as a seafront setting that includes a remnant of the past, in this case Lindisfarne Castle. Along with works such as Dinant on the Meuse (about 1839, Laing Art Gallery), it also shows Turner´s pioneering watercolour technique.  

Turner Laing Art Gallery

History of Tyneside

The exhibition will extensively chart the role of warships, featuring loans from Tate, the Higgins Bedford, and The Whitworth, University of Manchester, along with a model of the Temeraire from the early 19th century.

Turner´s experience of the transition to steam power following a lifetime spent depicting seafaring will be shown with smoke-filled works such as Peace – Burial at Sea (1842, Tate) that incorporate a dramatic use of black. 

Following on from Turner, more recent artistic interpretations of the British industrial landscape will also be on display, from LS Lowry´s River Scene (1935, Laing Art Gallery), to Tacita Dean’s more conceptual exploration of Sheffield’s industrial chimneys.  

The exhibition will close with John Kippin’s video piece ARC (2010), which documents the Tyneside-built warship the Ark Royal leaving the River Tyne for the last time.  

This special exhibition at The Laing puts the context and connection to the history of Tyneside at the forefront, presenting this National Treasure in a whole new light.

Education and outreach workshops will contribute to an intergenerational project thinking about memory and heritage. 

Julie Milne, Chief Curator of Art Galleries for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums says:

“We are happy to be partnering with the National Gallery on their 200th  anniversary celebration: the National Treasures programme. Art, Industry & Nostalgia will showcase one of Turner’s greatest masterpieces at the Laing Art Gallery.

“It is indeed a ‘National Treasure’ – The Fighting Temeraire in Newcastle provides us with the opportunity to connect with people’s shared histories and lived experience, to celebrate our cultural heritage and reflect on what is important to us individually and collectively.”