The Hippo


Apr 25, 2019








The Three Fates by William Turner. Courtesy photo.

 William Turner exhibit 

Where: The Image Gallery at the Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua 
When: On view through July. An artist reception will be held on Tuesday, July 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. 

Artistic drive
Exhibit features narrative realism paintings with vehicle imagery


By Angie Sykeny
Rusty machinery, vintage toys and Greek mythology provide the inspiration for Milford artist William Turner’s oil paintings, on display this month at the Nashua Public Library. 
Turner has always wanted to be an artist, but, he says, growing up with undiagnosed dyslexia made it impossible for him to earn the grades required to get into art school. Instead, he enlisted in the military, then found work in the auto body restoration business, which he did for 30 years. It wasn’t until his “mid-life crisis,” he said, that he became determined to pursue his lifelong dream. 
“Everyone, when they turn 50, reflects back on their life, and I decided that I wanted to be an artist, not just as a hobby, but on full-time basis,” he said. “Painting seemed like a nicer way to leave my legacy behind.” 
He went on to earn BFA and MFA degrees in visual arts and painting from the New Hampshire Institute of Art. It was during his studies there that he discovered his passion for stories, particularly the stories of Greek and Roman mythology and folklore. In his art, he set out to tell those stories, with imagery inspired by his past work with automobiles. 
“I fell in love with the character of vintage and rusty vehicles, and as I started painting, I realized they have a lot of character,” he said. “The headlights look like eyes, the grills look like a nose, and the bumper looks like a mouth, so I brought them in as characters in my stories and used them as substitutes for humans.” 
He has portrayed mythology characters such as the Graeae, Pegasus, Venus Callipyge and the cyclops, all with images of different kinds of vehicles. 
Turner has also reimagined famous works of art: “The Scream,” in which the screaming figure is replaced by a car with its hood up, and “Hermes and the Infant Dionysus,” depicted by a large tractor truck with a miniature replica sitting atop it. 
Recently, he’s been branching out, doing paintings with the same concept, but with vintage toys like M&M figurines and robots from the ’40s and ’50s instead of vehicles. 
“These aren’t paintings that you can do in a few days,” he said. “First, I have to find something that’s interesting, then, research it for a while to understand what it’s about so I can really draw attention to the story through these images that come into my head.” 
Turner incorporates many small, symbolic details into his paintings to add to their complexity and make the viewer think. 
“An average person looks at a painting for two or three seconds and moves on, but my paintings have all kinds of hidden messages and eye candy that, I think, makes people look longer,” he said. “They see one thing, then, they have to look for something else, and two or three minutes go by before they move on to the next one. I enjoy putting a little added interest into it.”
Turner considers his artistic style narrative realism, influenced by art from the Renaissance period. Though he has experimented with other styles, he said, nothing has given him the same satisfaction that realism does, especially in “that exciting moment where you realize you’ve captured the form.” 
“I think it stems from my childhood; being dyslexic, I was always told, ‘You’ll never get it right,’ and, I guess, with my art, I feel like I have to get it exactly right and prove to myself that I can do it,” he said. “Hopefully, that shows other people with some kind of disability that there is hope, and that you can work through these things; you just have to find yourself.” 

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