This week I went to London to see the Da Vinci Exhibition at the National Gallery, (more on that on another blog post) but I also decided to take in the John Martin “Apocalypse” Exhibition at Tate Britain. This show was actually on last year at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery but I missed it. I almost missed it again as it finishes on the 15th January.
John Martin’s paintings were phenomenally popular. His spectacular paintings of Biblical scenes and vast landscapes attracted great crowds who would flock to exhibitions of his paintings to be enthralled and moved by the scenes and visions he portrayed. They would pay for tickets for the shows as the paintings went on tour, rather like we do today to see concerts or movies. Indeed, John Martin’s work continues to provide inspiration today for science fiction films, Hollywood blockbusters, video games, manga comics, musicians and artists.
I was particularly impressed by The Last Judgement Triptych depicting chilling scenes from the book of Revelation and the promise of eternal life for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. The viewing of these three paintings was made even more relevant by a 10 minute light show every half hour with appropriate readings which I assumed were originally read when the paintings were first shown.
Last week I went to see the Turner Prize at the Baltic in Newcastle. The work on show there was about as relevant to 21st Century life as the Easter Bunny. John Martin’s paintings on show at Tate Britain are “right on the nail” today with the message they first communicated back in Victorian times. The exhibition finishes 15th January, so if you can make it, try to make the effort.