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BUSINESS Media Release: Art Gallery for the Bay



JMW Turner sketches of Pevensey Bay re-discovered

The discovery that JMW Turner sketched here in Pevensey is something that is not unknown. Buried deep in the vaults of the Tate Gallery is a series of sketches of the castle and one sketch in which the spire of St. Nicolas church can be seen.

What appears to be less known is that JMW Turner was here in Pevensey Bay with his sketchbook.

Examples of his work formed part of a series of pictures which were later developed. Relatively known is his sketch Pevensey Village and Castlec.1806–10.

The Tate records that “many of Turner’s patrons were colourful characters. One such figure was Jack Fuller of Rosehill Park, a Sussex landowner and MP with a family fortune created through iron. As well as being a founding member of the Royal Institution, Fuller is remembered for his eccentric building projects, which earned him the title ‘Mad Jack’.

“Fuller commissioned Turner to produce a number of watercolours to be engraved for a publication, Views in Sussex. The view across Crowhurst Park was an obvious choice, being the country residence of the Pelham family.”

The sketches of Pevensey Bay are less known and the research about the sketches is being conducted by Val Racher, business project development manager for the festival.

The research includes a trawl of the British Library Newspaper archives to see if any contemporaneous accounts of his wok in Pevensey Bay exist in the local pres of the time.

There is a hope that copies of the sketches may be displayed, together with the research. as part of the pilot Pevensey Arts and Literature Festival to be held here in Pevensey Bay between 23-26 August.

Val, talking about the pilot festival which she is describing as a ‘sketch of a festival’ to interested parties, told Bay Life (13 April), “this is an exciting discovery and I am looking forward to doing some more research about the matter, and I am also in touch with the JMW Turner Society to see if they know anything more about his work here in Pevensey Bay”.

Monthly meetings between the group planning the festival are taking place in the lead up to the pilot venture.

JMW Turner is sometimes referred to as the father of Modernism.

After graduation in 1842, Ruskin planned a book in defence of Turner, whose work had been mocked by the critics. The result was “Modern Painters”, published in five volumes 1843-60.

Given the fact that Ruskin wrote a book in defence of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, “Pre-Raphaelitism” (1851), the choice of the Turner sketches of Pevensey Bay to star in the pilot festival seems to be a natural fit.

As organsiers explain, “since we may be the only village in England with two roads named in parallel after two major pre-Pre-Raphaelite figures (Rossetti Road and Val Princeps Road), the Pevensey Bay sketches by Turner are an obvious choice to feature in the festival.

“Whether or not we intend to highlight the fact that Wealden Council can not spell and have mis-spelt the Road without the double s (they call the road Rosetti), is another matter, this is an old story, perhaps we will just let sleeping dogs lie.”

Meetings to plan the pilot festival are taking place monthly in Pevensey Bay.