Publications

International Journal of Art & Design Education

Touched by Turner

Volume 34.1   2015

ADAMS, JEFF

 

This is a personal reflection on an encounter with the works of the nineteenth-century painter J. M. W. Turner in London's Tate Britain exhibition ‘Late Turner: Painting Set Free’. The article discusses the deeply subjective nature of engaging with artworks, and touches upon theories that might account for the ineffable but moving experiences that sometimes occur in such situations, often unexpectedly, and analyses the associations that might prompt them – in this case the details of dogs in some of Turner's works. There is a discussion of the theoretical frameworks that may provide an insight into these deeply subjective, personal and yet significant encounters, and how they can provide a means to a richer understanding of an artwork. The article considers the conditions that might be conducive to these contemplative, affective experiences, and how they might occur in educational settings with appropriate forms of pedagogy. The article concludes by contrasting slow, idiosyncratic and subjective learning through artworks, with the dominant, data-based and reductive trends that currently prevail in mainstream education.