The National Gallery hopes that viewers will discover one of his most popular paintings, Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway in a richer way when he publishes his first slow tutorial as part of a new digital program during lockout.
The five-minute film encourages people to clear their minds, to really look at what is in front of them and to experience and see the painting.
It stems from mindfulness art appreciation sessions at the gallery led by art historian Christina Bradstreet, who is part of the learning team.
“People often want to connect deeply with a painting,” she said. “But it is often quite difficult to get in there and just watch. It may seem like you are watching, but in fact, you are thinking about what your boss just told you, how annoyed you are about this tourist festival, what you are going to have for dinner.
“I usually try to get people to quietly look at a painting for a few minutes, which is very long when you think that the average [people look] is supposed to last 16 seconds. “
As for the Turner, people could miss the drama of the Great Western train crossing the bridge through the wind and rain, they could miss the hare, racing for its life, in the lower right corner. Or the girls dressed in white who could dance? Or do they wave like the first trainpotters?
Bradstreet said the slow exercises have helped people see unnoticed details in the paintings they supposedly knew well.
“Sometimes people have an emotional response, it reminded them of something in their life. It can be really rewarding. Sometimes people can start crying, which, in fact, can be really charming. “
Slow video is part of a larger set of content announced by the gallery on Thursday to celebrate the creative possibilities of staying and helping mental well-being during lockdown.
John Shevlin, senior content planner, said the slowness seemed particularly relevant at the time. “It seems like people are looking for this moment of peace and calm, this moment of reflection. It’s something we know people are already coming to the gallery. “
Shevlin hopes that the Turner session will be available this weekend and is considered a pilot. “We’ll see how successful it is, how people will react to it, and then develop the content from there. “
This is a short film with a meditative commentary, but people can, of course, view any painting in the National Gallery for as long as they like on the gallery website.
Among other content, curators lecture on the gallery paintings from their own homes, starting with Francesca Whitlum-Cooper, associate curator of the 1600-1800 paintings, exploring five works celebrating domestic activities.
They include “the calm, cool and tranquil world of Delft in the 17th century” in Vermeer in A young woman standing in a virginal; Pastel work by Jean-Etienne Liotard The breakfast of the Lavergne family; and Chardin’s house of cards.
A “create and create” section is aimed at families. For example, make a collage in the jungle from things around the house inspired by the very popular painting by Henri Rousseau of a tiger in the undergrowth, Surprised!
National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi said the program was inspired by the legacy of Dame Myra Hess, the pianist who organized weekdays concerts to cheer up the gallery when it was last closed during the Second World War.
” It’s a very remarkable story at the National Gallery and we see ourselves as heirs to the spirit of Myra Hess as we plan our activities while the gallery building is temporarily closed, “he said. “With this exciting new digital program, you will see that we are open every hour, with free art for everyone. So join us because there is a lot to discover. You bring the tea, we will bring the art. ”
A guide to watch slowly
Step into the moment by perhaps looking at the wrinkles on your fingers or clapping your hands.
Now focus on a painting. Start by realizing it in the context of the room you are in. How does light fall on it? What shadows are created by the frame?
Watch in silence for a few minutes. Is there a pattern in your appearance? Is there anything that really catches your eye? Where are you going from there?
Focus on certain shapes, lines and colors. Imagine that your eyes are a pencil retracing the paint and do it at different speeds.
Imagine that you are in painting yourself. Smell the air, listen to the sounds. If it’s a portrait, imagine yourself as that person, move your posture into their posture.
If you are doing this with another person, start talking about your experience, the things you have seen.