Finding Turner Art for Guernsey
J.M.W. Turner was born at 26 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden on 23 April 1775. His father William was a barber and wig maker. His mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of London butchers. Turner’s father boasted to his customers about how clever his son was and how good he was at drawing. He displayed his drawings around his shop and sold them for one to three shillings each.

By the age of 12 or 13, Turner was aware of his talent. He learned how to look by observing in Covent Garden market, the Long Acre carriage works, the colour grinders, print shops and life of the street. The River Thames gave him the opportunity to study boats and ships at work. He also learned about picture-making by copying engravings and the work of established artists including Edward Dayes, Michael Angelo Rooker and Paul Sandby.

“When I was a boy I used to lie for hours on my back watching the skies, and then go home and paint them; and there was a stall in Soho Bazaar where they sold drawing materials, and they used to buy my skies. They gave me 1s 6d for the small ones and 3s 6d for the larger ones. There’s many a young lady who’s got my sky to her drawing.”

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

At the age of just 14, Turner was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools after training with architect Thomas Hardwick and draughtsman Thomas Malton Jr. He would be associated with the Royal Academy for the rest of his life and gave many lectures. Over 60 years Turner travelled thousands of miles across Great Britain and Europe to sketch landscapes, and he was especially drawn to coasts. Getting around wasn’t easy at that time, and it often wasn’t possible to get to Europe because the Napoleonic Wars were going on.

Turner produced many sketchbooks, at home and on his travels. In them he jotted names and dates, materials and prices, methods and intentions and even recipes for medical treatments among the countless thousands of landscape and marine studies that were the sketchbooks’ main purpose. He worked very quickly on his sketchbooks. His architectural training encouraged him to take short cuts and use a ruler to make a tower straight. He would take advantage of the fact that most architecture is symmetrical and would draw only half or part of the building, making notes of any irregular details, and then move on to the next subject or point of view. From these sketchbooks, Turner made his finished watercolours at home.

Turner was usually commissioned by publishers to paint watercolours for travel guides. They were engraved so they could be reproduced.  In the mid-1790s Turner started to use oil paints. He would create artworks for annual exhibitions at the Royal Academy and covered many subjects, from classical themes to landscapes and contemporary history. In his many marine paintings you could feel the danger of the rough seas.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

ST PETER PORT 1

The main sketch shows a view across the town of St Peter Port, with the four spires of Elizabeth College on the skyline, Town Church just to the left of centre and the north of the island in the distance, noting Castle Cornet was not yet connected to the land via the pier you see now. There are also two detailed sketches of the castle which, as you can see, accurately depict the structures as they are today. Can you find the exact locations of these sketches?

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

Town Church & Cow Lane

The sketches show views of Cow Lane with Town Church on the right-hand side, the interior of Town Church and a view of some people gathered in the street. The view of Cow Lane can be found by standing a short distance away from this frame, on the other side of the road at the bottom of the steps in front of the newsagents. You will note some changes to the buildings, including the missing arch, with photos available via the QR code.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

St Peter Port 2

These sketches show the harbour mouth from the shore, with Castle Cornet, Fort George and the islands of Herm, Jethou and Sark in the distance. In both instances you can see lighthouses on the ends of the harbour that are no longer there, with changes to the harbour and the New Jetty beyond. Photos of these structures as they were can be viewed via the QR code on this panel. The location of the second sketch is in front of you, a short distance along the northern arm of the Crown Pier.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

St Peter Port 3

This view is of St Peter Port from an elevated vantage point, most likely where you are now standing, with Fort George visible in the distance and the spires of St James and Elizabeth College visible on the right hand side. The prominent house in the right foreground is hard to position from this view – perhaps it has been replaced, maybe you can find it? Please share your own comparison using the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

St Peter Port 4

The view from this location shows Castle Cornet on the left, which was still separate from the island, and First Tower on the right, which was demolished to make way for the tram sheds (now the bus depot), with St Peter Port nestled between and Fort George above the town in the distance. If you turn to face north, the second sketch depicts the bay, with First Tower in the foreground and what is now Bulwer Avenue and Longue Hougue in the distance. In both sketches you can see a significant change in the built environment, with further images and information available via the QR code.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey
Finding Turner Art for Guernsey
Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

St Sampson’s Harbour

The primary sketch here depicts a view of St Sampson’s harbour before it was developed. Looking past the new buildings, you can still see St Sampson’s Church spire, the Martello Tower on the hill and Jethou to the left through the harbour mouth. The other two sketches show views of the same area, with small buildings, ships and Vale Castle on the hilltop. Can you find the location of these two sketches?

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

Vale Castle

This sketch of the castle clearly shows the castle set atop the hill with the entrance archway on the right hand side, its overall presentation very similar to the structure you see today. The second sketch positions the castle into the wider landscape of St Sampson’s harbour, from a position behind St Sampson’s Church. Certainly this area has undergone significant changes since 1832, with the buildings present today quite different to the open bay that Turner witnessed. Can you find the spot?

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

Rocquaine Bay

This panel features three sketches, the first from the location where you are now, slightly elevated but obviously the World War II bunker wouldn’t have been here in 1832. You can see Fort Grey – the Cup and Saucer – on the right, and a house on the left with the hills beyond. As you walk towards Fort Grey along the path and road, you will discover the location of the other sketches, with the featured house just up the road to Le Coudre, now called Aldebaran, and the view of Fort Grey likely from the location of the closest steps down to the beach and from the beach level, based on the angle.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

Petit Bot Bay

This viewpoint shows the old hotel, now visible only as collapsed ruins, and water wheel in the foreground, with the cottage on the left and the Martello Tower at the entrance to the bay. The location of the frame is just in front of the buildings, but with some exploration of the footpaths in the hills behind you, you will find the exact spot from which this sketch was made, most likely within the grounds of the hotel. By scanning the QR code, you will find a selection of images of the hotel that once stood on this site.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

DOYLE MONUMENT

This view looks along the east coast from Jerbourg towards town, detailing several jutting headlands, each with a small bay or cove nestled between, with Castle Cornet and the north of the island in the distance. The sketch was drawn from a position behind the monument to your right, from an elevated position which is hard to recreate today, suggesting some changes to the landscape since 1832. The second sketch shows the same coast, viewed from Clarence Battery, which you can see on the last headland before the castle.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

Clarence Battery & Soldiers Bay

The sketches depicted here show three views of the area, one detailing a view along the east coast towards St Martin’s Point, with the Doyle Monument clearly visible in the distance, and Soldiers Bay in the foreground. Soldiers Bay is presently inaccessible from the footpath, but you can see the view of the islands from this vantage point. The third sketch shows Fort George behind you, and Clarence Battery where you are now standing.

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Finding Turner Art for Guernsey
Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

“For centuries Guernsey has inspired and fostered global artistic talent, and we take great pride in supporting Dima and his continuing relationship with the island.  Dima has a masterful talent to capture emotional depth in the island’s settings, and his art resonates with many of the island’s community who find a connection with his work.  As we head towards another glorious Guernsey summer, there is no better time to celebrate and support Dima’s continuing exploration of the island’s nature, scenery and fleeting moments in light.”

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ENRICHING OUR ISLAND

OUR LEGACY

We have been working in the Bailiwick since 2016, bringing art exhibitions, events and creative activities of the highest standards of delivery and engagement to the community, from early education to care homes and everyone in between. We have reached not just our own community but far beyond our shores too. We always strive to inspire our community, innovate in our delivery, reach significant audiences and support future generations, combining creativity with impact.

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