Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

11th June 2019 Vienna, Austria

Turner comes to Gmünd

Are there 2,550 reasons to visit Gmünd, in Carinthia?  No.  There are 2551.

When I first started work at the Department of the Environment in 1979, I used to go once a week with a friend at lunchtime to visit the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) on Bankside.  I was fascinated to discover the works of my namesake, Joseph Mallord William Turner.

Turner was a revolutionary artist.  For me, his magnificent works presage the Impressionists, a movement which started shortly after his death in 1851.  So I was delighted to be invited to open a Turner exhibition in May in the small town of Gmünd, deep in the mountains of Carinthia.

Gmünd is about four hours’ drive from Vienna but worth the trip.  The picturesque, 13th century settlement has been transformed in the past 30 years into a “Künstlerstadt”, or “Artists’ town”, with a series of cultural events, including this year two British artists in residence.  I was struck by the mountain scenery, the scenic town centre, and the friendly, art-obsessed population, numbering according to Wikipedia 2,550.

The Turner exhibition, which is on until 29 September, is housed in a historic tower above the city gate, and shows a series of priceless watercolours and historic engravings.  I recommend a visit to Gmünd to see the exhibition, as well as the tiny town’s many other attractions.

Or, if you can’t make it to Gmünd, you may wish to consider a visit to the Tate Britain in London, to which many iconic paintings by Turner returned in 2016 after a major international tour.

Gmünd and London.  Great to mention them in the same breath.

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.

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