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Powerful Tides – 400 years of Chatham and the Sea

23 Mar 2018 - 17 Jun 2018


Temporary exhibition

This exhibition is in celebration of our 400th anniversary!

400 years through art are explored with the gallery displaying paintings on what The Dockyard used to look like: From industrial scenes, to romantic and community scenes. The gallery also includes loans from the Tate Modern, Turner Contemporary as well as artwork featuring Tracey Emin. 

The different perspectives of The Dockyard are clearly visible through a journey of time –  What paintings will you connect The Dockyard with?


This year marks the 400th anniversary of The Dockyard on its current location.  The earlier Tudor Dockyard, located further down the River Medway towards Chatham, had become too small for the ships being built and the demands being put on it in terms of output.  The relocation and expansion of the Dockyard at Chatham, under the reign of James I in 1618, laid the foundation for the Dockyard to play a vital role in Britain’s military and technological history over the next 400 years.

Over the centuries the Dockyard, the ships it built and the people who have built them have also been a source of creative inspiration.  JMW Turner’s depiction of the Victory (launched at Chatham in 1765) at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 or his end of an era defining imagery of the Temeraire (launched at Chatham in 1798) being towed to the breakers yard in his painting of 1838, epitomise the power that the ships that Chatham built had.  The words of Charles Dickens (whose father John worked at the Dockyard as Paymaster) in the Uncommercial Traveller captured the revolution in building ships in iron and the impact of those who worked on them.  While the advent of submarines in the 20th century captured the imagination of a number of artists and some of the most striking works were created by Eric Ravilious in the early part of the Second World War.

This exhibition, seeks to draw on and explore key themes of place, process and product – and how this captured the imagination of artists, poets, authors and illustrators over 400 years.


Diaries & Manuscripts

From the Stuart Dockyard to the present day, delve in to a romantiscm of art from the age of sail to the industrialisation and the importance of the river and trade. Diaries and manuscripts will provide first-hand accounts of travellers through The Dockyard providing more evidence of just how important and what an impact The Dockyard has made over her 400 years.

Works by...

Works by John Constable  will be on display – details of which will soon be announced!

Loans from...

Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, a scaled down version of HMS Victory (a Chatham made ship), which currently stands outside The National Maritime Museum and is noted as one of the most photographed artworks in London will also be joining the exhibition.

What's On

What's on