Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'The Interior of the King's Theatre, Haymarket, Seen from the Gallery' circa 1798

Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Interior of the King's Theatre, Haymarket, Seen from the Gallery circa 1798
Pencil on paper
support: 241 x 381 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

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Drawn from Turner

James Brooks, artist  

James Brooks studied at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, and the University of Plymouth, where he gained a 1st class honours degree in Fine Art Painting. In 2004 he completed his Masters degree at Chelsea College of Art & Design focusing on drawing as his primary activity. Earlier this year he curated, and showed in, an international group drawing show entitled: ‘Until it makes Sense’ supported by the Arts Council of England. Further to this, he recently presented a paper for the Publication and Seminar ‘Drawing: the Future’ at the National Gallery, London. His work has been shown in London, Germany, Paris, and Miami. 

James Brooks after Turner The Interior of the King's Theatre, Haymarket, Seen from the Gallery circa 1798

James Brooks
After Turner The Interior of the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, Seen from the Gallery c.1798

My selection of this particular drawing by Turner was due to being attracted to the tension between a man-made architectural subject and Turner’s energetic handling, which brings vitality to the structure. As with the Petworth house watercolours, I am interested in Turner’s works that are confined by a roof or room. Further to this, I was intrigued by the work’s formal aspect of physically having two sides, through Turner’s consideration and continuation of the drawing across 2 sketchbook pages. After some initial experimentation responding to this notion of ‘opposites’, I decided to re-unify the two parts of the drawing and increase the subject’s size, in an attempt to emphasise the monumentality and space of the theatre’s interior. 

Through the activity of extended looking and recording, I became aware of the diversity of his mark-making vocabulary, and its distribution to create a sense of place and moment. I have attempted to unravel the order and layers of marks that accumulate in Turner’s rapid observation. Working not unlike a cartographer, I slowly mapped out the 2 dimensional coordinates of the original, thinking in terms of line density, energy and location.