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Crossings, Constructions and Connections: JMW Turner and Bridges Old and New – Time and Tide Museum of Great Yarmouth Life

October 21, 2023 - February 25, 2024

This beautiful new exhibition explores how bridges – physical and symbolic – have inspired artists from Norfolk and beyond, in particular their importance in the work of JMW Turner.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is the magnificent early oil painting, Walton Bridges, painted by Turner in 1806, and acquired for Norfolk Museums in 2019 with the help of The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Art Fund.

Alongside Walton Bridges four other works by Turner are displayed: two watercolours, an engraving and a pencil sketch, all featuring bridges, and including one of his preparatory sketches for Walton Bridges shown alongside the finished oil painting for the first time.

Turner was fascinated by technological innovation and his art was closely focused on how human activity impacted and interacted with the natural world. Turner loved travelling and portrayed many bridges during his career. Some were romantic and picturesque, others were modern practical structures, like the bridge over the Thames at Walton which in his time represented progress and new technology.

Taking its cue from Turner, the exhibition explores the significance of bridges, both in reality and the imagination, in the past through to the present day.

Works by artists from Norfolk and beyond are included alongside the works by Turner and demonstrate the many ways in which bridges have been portrayed in art. Artists featured include contemporaries of Turner and those who were influenced by him such as John Sell Cotman, John Berney Crome and John Thirtle, alongside works by later artists such as Catherine Nichols and renowned Norfolk artist Edward Seago.

Alongside the artworks a fascinating range of memorabilia – from jugs to pincushions and water bottles – shows how the opening of a new bridge has long been seen as an occasion for commemoration and celebration.

The exhibition’s location in Great Yarmouth is particularly timely as the town looks forward to the opening of an important new bridge, The Herring Bridge, and the sense of optimism for the future this fosters. A section of the exhibition takes a closer look at the importance of bridges to the town and their evolution over time.

The exhibition has benefited from sponsorship by BAM Farrans to contribute towards resources for schools.

Walton Bridges, 1806, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), Oil on canvas. Purchased with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Art Fund, and a private donor

© Norfolk Museums Service


October 21, 2023
February 25


Time & Tide Museum of Great Yarmouth Life
Blackfriars Road
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR30 3BX United Kingdom
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