Curator's Choice: Director Victoria Pomery on a classic painting at Turner Contemporary

By Victoria Pomery | 04 April 2012
A photo of a woman pointing at a painting of a beach scene inside a gallery
Curator's Choice: Victoria Pomery, the Director of Turner Contemporary in Margate, on her favourite piece from Turner and the Elements...

“I love being by the sea – that feeling of space, of fresh air and feeling at one with nature.

I’m very fortunate to work at Turner Contemporary, which is located on the seafront.

From my office, four large-scale windows frame my view of a busy shipping lane, the remnants of Margate pier and the rocky outcrops of a chalk reef.  

The scene from my window is moments away from this painting, The new Moon or I've lost my Boat, You Shan't Have Your Hoop, currently on display in Turner and the Elements.

An image of an oil painting of a beach scene populated by people and dogs at dusk
JMW Turner, The New Moon or, I've lost My Boat, you shan't Have Your Hoop (1840). Oil on mahogany© Tate
Turner’s painting captures perfectly that sense of energy that empty sands and flat, open spaces provoke, as well as the contemplative atmosphere that the sea and sky induces.

The small family group appear to be bickering while we sense the fun, enjoyment and liberation of the two dogs bounding across the beach.

The hint of the new moon in the sky, and reflected in the wet sands, is a subtle reminder of the strong relationship it has on the tide.  

Perhaps what this painting does best for me is capture the special light of this coastline.

It is hard to describe the quality of the light here – Margate looks north. It is soft, so much easier on the eye than the light of other coastal towns in the UK.

Turner and the Elements is our first exhibition dedicated to Turner’s work since we opened in April 2011. It’s a wonderful exhibition, and brings together more than 80 works by Turner, the majority lent by Tate.

We’ve used the image of The new Moon in all our publicity. It is a relatively small painting but has a huge presence and looks as fresh today as it must have done when it was first exhibited in 1840.”

  • Turner and the Elements is at Turner Contemporary until May 13 2012. Read our Review. See Culture24 later this month for more on Turner Contemporary’s first birthday.
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