On the Turner Trail

Art for Guernsey has launched a fascinating insight trail featuring globally acclaimed painter Joseph Mallord William Turner, who visited the island in or around 1832 and is known to have sketched extensively around the Bailiwick.

The Turner Trail gives anyone visiting the Bailiwick the opportunity to find out more about the artist described as “the painter of light”, thanks to his stunning use of colour. To celebrate the launch of the Turner Trail and to mark the beginning of Art for Guernsey’s “Finding Turner” journey, the charity has also curated a stunning exhibition of contemporary work by Guernsey-based artist James Colmer, who has long been inspired by Turner, and was commissioned to produce a body of work in response to his sketches.

The exhibition is on display this spring at Art for Guernsey’s beautiful gallery in St Peter Port, Guernsey’s main town, and is further complemented by a number of artworks, sketches and responses from a selection of younger local artists.

Art for Guernsey received international acclaim for its Renoir Walk, and last year the charity staged a unique exhibition that celebrated Renoir’s stay in Guernsey in 1883 and the career-changing inspiration that he found on the island. Working with Guernsey Museums and the Musée des Impressionnismes in Giverny, Art for Guernsey brought together a collection of Renoir’s artworks loaned by an array of international museums and distinguished private collectors.

The Art for Guernsey team has now turned its forensic focus towards Turner’s visit to the islands, where he sketched extensively, with the sketchbook held at Tate Britain as part of the bequest from the artist’s estate. The Turner Trail, which stretches around the island’s east coast and also encompasses Alderney, Sark and Herm, links the historic views with state-of-the-art technology to provide information and understanding.

“Guernsey’s natural beauty has long been recognised and Turner was inspired to sketch a number of views, particularly in Guernsey and Sark. We wanted to offer island residents and visitors the chance to discover more about the locations that captured his imagination,” said Art for Guernsey founder David Ummels.

Art for Guernsey’s journey is set to continue beyond this exhibition. During the spring and summer of 2024 three international artists will visit the Bailiwick to explore the islands’ natural beauty, observe the locations where Turner sketched and provide their own artistic response. This body of work will be exhibited in a second installment of the project in spring 2025.