Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Turner House, Twickenham

Today we visited Sandycombe Lodge in Twickenham, also known as the house designed and lived in by Romantic era artist J.M.W Turner.  I myself am rather unpretentious in my artistic tastes, and think there's nothing better than a dramatic and overtly sentimental seascape;

'Fishermen at Sea', 1794.  Thank you, Tate Britain.

However, Turner's House is surprisingly modest, nestled unassumingly in the leafy suburbs of Twickenham.  The house has been altered from it's original form somewhat due to renovations by later residents, so it currently stands as this;

as opposed to this;

1813, perhaps.

In 1947 Professor Harold Livermore and his wife Anne acquired the property, apparently accepting it in a very derelict state (it had prior been used as a shadow factory for the World War II efforts) and made it their mission to salvage it's heritage and Turner's memory.   In 2005 'The Turner House Trust' was set up enabling Professor Livermore's wishes for a secure future for the house on the event of his death. 

Turner's sketchbook of designs for the house are cared for by Tate Britain and accessible online

The project and assessment of this current module is to propose an event, idea or installation that engages public interest in Sandycombe lodge, as currently it is relatively bare and unvisited (due to limited funding, should this upset you donate here) which renders it unlimited in it's potential. 

In regards to this, I was reading some information on Turner's father, William, who cared for the house while his son worked at The Royal Academy, and would occasionally walk the ten miles it took to see him lecture.  

'Old Dad' Turner

My original idea was to possibly force the public to undertake that 10 mile walk into Central London, but that seemed a bit cruel.  So instead I have considered the potential for a 'Turner Trail' that begins and concludes at Sandycombe Lodge, with stop points at Richmond Hill and Richmond bridge, from which the view has been immortalised in Turner's work;

'View of Richmond Hill and Bridge' 1808.  One of many Richmond based Turner works.
And for a wider scope on Turner and friends, there a few residences dotted around lived in by men greatly admired by Turner such as Sir Joshua Reynolds (Wick House).  Alexander Pope, another hero of Turner's, also dwelt in the area, the remains of which are now occupied by Radnor House independent school, but I think that might be pushing the distance a bit! 

Very tempted to make archaic maps for the occasion. 
 Of course, there are a lot of logistics and Google-mapping to do before I can confirm such a proposal and there is, unfortunately, another 'Turner Trail' in Yorkshire so I may have to alter the name slightly, but I am planning to take a stroll in the next few days to test it's potential so I will report back on that!

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