The Power of the Sea: Making Waves in British Art 1790–2014
Author(s): Janette Kerr & Christiana Payne (Editors)
Year published: April 2014
Publisher: Sansom & Company
Publisher Location: Bristol
Total Pages: 160
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour throughout
8 in stock
Artists in Britain have long been fascinated by the sea, the spectacle of waves crashing on the shore, and the destructive power of the ocean. Since the early nineteenth century, the sea has been an important focus for painters relishing the challenge of working directly from nature, often in inhospitable conditions. Such work has gained a new urgency with current concerns about climate change and rising sea levels.
Danger is a recurrent theme; Morland, Danby, Brett and Langley emphasized the human costs of shipwrecks, Turner concentrated on elemental fury, and Constable on the sea’s breezy freshness. Late nineteenth century depictions seem more benign, a source of leisure and health. Moore, James, and Laurence sought ways to capture the movement of waves. Twentieth century artists Nash, Wadsworth and Feiler found reassurance in the simple geometry of sea walls and boats, while Lanyon, Piper and Eardley portrayed the coast as a place of swirling winds and shifting moods, emblematic of the artist’s own subjective experience.
Maggie Hambling and Gail Harvey celebrate colourful waves, while Kurt Jackson, Len Tabner, and Janette Kerr depict seas that foam and froth furiously. Monochromatic photographs and etchings by James Beale, Norman Ackroyd and Thomas Joshua Cooper capture its moods, beauty and movement. History, myth and maritime tradition inhabit the works of Hugh O’Donoghue and Will Maclean. Simon Read, Michael Porter, and Jethro Brice portray coastal erosion and rising sea levels, while Peter Matthews and Andrew Friend immerse work in the sea or create devices to disappear below its surface.
The book demonstrates the contrasts and continuities in artists’ engagement with the sea over two centuries and man’s changing relationship with nature. Generously illustrated, its essays offer differing perspectives of artists, scientists, art historian and cultural geographer.
Published to coincide with an exhibition at the RWA, Bristol