Drawn to the Coast: Turner, Constable, Cotman

Explore Great Yarmouth and its coast through the lives and works of Turner, Constable and Cotman at Time & Tide Museum this summer.

This exhibition looks at the British masters’ connection with the area and also the relationship between past and present. Paintings, drawings and etchings by J.M.W Turner, John Constable and John Sell Cotman are displayed alongside social history objects from the museum’s maritime collections.

This exhibition explores how these artworks placed our small coastal community within the national consciousness. Highlights of the show include two loaned works by J.M.W Turner from Tate – a watercolour of Great Yarmouth, and, on display in the county for the first time, his Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex sketchbook. The exhibition includes works on loan from Tate, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service and the East Anglian Art Centre. 

Both land and sea have changed almost unrecognisably since the early 19th century when trawlers bobbed in the waters and Nelson’s Monument stood in isolated splendour away from buildings. The exhibition highlights the history of the town and the beauty of the coastal landscape that continues to inspire artists today.

The show, which has been designed and curated with assistance from Community Curators and volunteers, explores a fascinating selection of works by the headline artists alongside examples by other well-known names, particularly from the Norwich School of painters, such as Joseph Stannard and John Crome. The works on show include a diverse range of media from oil on canvas and watercolours to pencil sketches and etchings and shows Great Yarmouth through the eyes of the artist.

Alongside the exhibition, work made by the National Saturday Art & Design Club is displayed and showcases their response to the local environment. Taking the iconic Nelson’s Monument as inspiration, young people were led by a local artist to make sketches on location before translating their drawings into paintings on canvas.

Drawn to the Coast is delivered as part of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund project, Sea History Differently, which aims to transform engagement with maritime collections.

For exhibition related talks and events see our What’s On page.

Image © Tate, Firing Rockets at Great Yarmouth, Possibly Related to ‘Life-Boat and Manby Apparatus Going Off’ c.1831, Turner, Joseph Mallord William.

  • Norfolk County Council