Turner Contemporary. Credit Carlos Dominguez
Turner Contemporary. Credit Carlos Dominguez

The Tourists: Ellen Harvey & JMW Turner

Please note for this exhibition you will now need to book a free ticket in advance of attending. Click here to book tickets

Open Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm, last entry is at 4pm

10 years after appearing in the gallery’s opening exhibition Revealed, artist Ellen Harvey returns to Turner Contemporary opening the anniversary programme with her first UK solo show The Tourists, an exhibition paired with works by JMW Turner.

The Tourists explores themes of tourism and ecology, our relationship to images, architecture and place, destruction and loss. Working in painting, sculpture and digital media, this exhibition brings together a group of Harvey’s large-scale installations comprised of meticulously rendered paintings and engravings. The centre-piece to the show is a new work called The Disappointed Tourist, comprising over 200 paintings of sites that have disappeared. From the Temple of Bel in Syria to Brandy Bucks restaurant in Margate, Harvey has crowd sourced places from across the world. Embarking on this work before the Covid-crisis, it has developed an unexpected resonance.

“After a year where we’ve all been disappointed tourists, it feels like a good time to explore what it is that we really love about our world and to think about how we can tread more lightly on the beauties that we have all longed to visit.”

Harvey has selected two groups of works by JMW Turner, which resonate with her own explorations into image-making, experience and place. They focus on two very different tourist destinations: the ancient ruins of Italy, which Turner longed to visit from a young age, and Margate, which captured his imagination in his later years. Harvey has had a long interest in JMW Turner and Margate, and in 2011 she created Arcadia in response to Turner’s relationship with Margate for Turner Contemporary’s opening show Revealed.

The exhibition will also include The Mermaid (2019), a 34-meter-long painting, depicting a cross-section of Florida from Miami Beach to the Everglades National Park, drawn from satellite imagery, and The Alien’s Guide to the Ruins of Washington DC (2013) a souvenir stand created by fictional aliens invented by Harvey, which is hand-painted with 118 sites in the future ruins of Washington DC.


Turner Contemporary

Entry Price

Free admission - but essential to pre-book