Joseph Mallord William Turner

A film premiered this week, entitled “Mr. Turner” featuring the combined geniuses of the painter J.M.W. Turner, the film director Mike Leigh and the actor Timothy Spall.

Personal View

When I was in the third year at University I signed up for a course on 20th Century art, but changed my mind at the last minute to 19th Century art, on the grounds that I did not enjoy 20th Century art.  I was very glad that I did – it is still my favourite period of art.  It has always given me a warm fuzzy feeling of security that the National Gallery houses such a full-bodied collection of his paintings, representing British art at its best.

If I had been writing in the 19th Century, I would have said that his work was highly original, even within the movements of the (late 18th and) 19th Century, and that his work evoked a high state of spirituality, in particular his studies of the play of light and mist in his skyscapes.  I would have said that his work was futuristic, but I would have been wrong about the trajectory of art, which took the abstract path, and culminated in late 20th and early 21st Century movements such as Brit Art.  Perhaps Turner took his unique genre as far as he could.

The only negative associations I have with his work was that during the 1970s “The Fighting Temeraire” got overexposed: nearly every home had a block mounted edition of this painting, and every magazine used to sport an advertisement encouraging you to have your own print.  So much so, that I couldn’t look at it for several years.

His Chart

I have taken his chart from Astrodatabank, a huge collection of charts from the late Astrologer Lois Rodden, but the birth time and even the date are not firmly known.

Turner had his North Node at 0 degrees Virgo conjunct Mars in Leo in 8th House straightaway revealing the Warrior Archetype, and he was by all accounts a prickly character (for instance in his rivalry with Constable).  The North Node also trines closely his Sun, adding an immense creativity and leadership in his field.  Uranus exactly square the Nodal Axis accentuates the alienation from society, and a leadership role.

His Venus conjuncts Uranus in his 5th House of creativity, giving him an  unusual relationship with society as well as the originality contained in  this placement.

His Moon was exactly sextile Mercury, providing a harmonious alliance between the imagination and the intellect.

An article in the Guardian yesterday points out a dissonance between the handsome fellow he saw himself as, particularly in youth, and the “gargoyle” of a figure as portrayed later in life in the film.  Both could be true, but Jupiter/Venus/Uranus in 5th House would portray a healthy self-image at least.

His work is imbued with an elevated sense of beauty, in an era which produced much attractive and beautiful work under the movements of Romanticism, but works of his time often tended to still aim at achieving realism.  Some of Turner’s work went beyond that.

Mike Leigh

Back in 1977 hubby and I sat and watched the original TV production of Abigail’s Party, in the days before we had separate televisions.  It was a mesmerizing play, great fun and  very original for its time.  We did not know it was improvised, and this was our first experience of Mike Leigh’s style.

Since then he has honed his method, which consists of working individually with his actors and then producing a loose plot within which the actors’ own ingenuity and creativity can take over.  Characteristically, the film Mr. Turner was meticulously researched.  Timothy Spall, who plays Turner, took painting lessons, for instance.

Lead researcher Jacqueline Riding is quoting as saying (also in the Guardian): “In the film, you are watching months, years actually,  of preparation and graft, gradually evolved from improvisations, then honed into an elegant, funny and revealing five-minute scene.”

In his chart, Mike Leigh has the Sun opposite his Moon (born on a Full Moon) with his “lights” squared by the groundbreaking conjunction of Saturn and Uranus.  Further quirkiness of working method is revealed by Chiron exactly conjunct his North Node (a karmic mission of healing) in Leo.  He works from the inside out to produce his authenticity.

One of the secrets of his award-winning success in working in such a complex way is an exact trine between his Uranus and Neptune, backed up by an exact sextile between two other big-hitters, Saturn and Pluto.  There is a great strength within these structures, and an ability to follow through on big projects.

He may have had a telepathic connection with Turner in making this film, because his Uranus (telepathy) is exactly conjunct Turner’s own Uranus, and Turner’s Nodal Axis is exactly square Leighr’s Uranus.

In the comparison with Turner’s chart, Mike Leigh’s Sun is exactly conjunct Turner’s South Node – a direct karmic connection!

Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall won Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival this year for his role as Turner in Mike Leigh’s film.  He is known as a character actor, and worked with Mike Leigh on “Secrets and Lies” in 1996.

Thus there is a longstanding association between Leigh and Spall, and they established several years ago the principle of doing the film, but it took many years and much preparation to come to fruition: that smacks of a Saturn process.  Their Suns are 7 degrees apart in Pisces, the sign of envisioning, and working together magnifies the envisioning.

Spall’s Moon is conjunct his Chiron, so through his empathetic emotional body he can relate to the Chironic way in which Mike Leigh works.  He has four planets in Aquarius, making the total of his Fixed Sign planets seven out of ten, a highly unusual figure.  This may give him a fixety of purpose, and a steely determination.  His Uranus closely square Neptune may give him a great deal of internal conflict, but that may have enabled him to play gritty and sometimes hapless roles.  Working with Mike Leigh, who has these two planets in an exact trine, helps to bring out the best in his natal ascpect.

He agreed to play the role of Turner many years ago, but the action of the film takes place later in Turner’s years because Spall himself is no spring chicken.  We do not have birth times / Ascendants for Mike Leigh or Timothy Spall, which limits the insight into their charts.

Among other exact interaspects, Spall has genial Jupiter trine exactly Turner’s Venus, iconoclastic Uranus square exactly Turner’s Sun, and empathetic Neptune exactly opposite Turner’s Moon, ensuring a job well done.

In comparing his chart with Mike Leigh’s they have the excellent working combination of exactly trined Marses.

Premier of Film

The film which premiered this week is a culmination, as I often feel in these circumstances, of collaborations between humans on this earth, and spiritual forces behind the scenes, including Joseph Turner himself.

The chart of the film shows a conjunction of the Sun and Venus (the theme of Art) and Mercury sextile Jupiter (a box office success).  Mars sextiles Neptune, showing the complexity and sensitivity with which it has been made. Venus sextiles Pluto (carrying a profound message), and Mercury conjuncts the North Node (there is an informative element, and historical accuracy has been attended to in great detail).

The aspects to Turner’s own chart at this time are a little uncomfortable, so  his perfectionism may be a little rattled, though I am sure the film overall has his seal of approval (that is the nearest I am going to get to a Halloween comment).  Mike Leigh has currently Saturn exactly trine his natal Venus, so he will feel a sense of accomplishment in his artistic portrayal.  Timothy Spall has Saturn transiting his natal North Node, again a serious achievement.  Note that Leigh and Spall have significant Saturn transits, a measure of the length of time they have taken to bring this project to the big screen.


Apart from a non-eclipsed Full Moon which we should be able to take in our stride, this is the third week of mild-mannered or even helpful aspects.  It is therefore a week to count our blessings, because next week we are back to the normal pattern of ups and downs, with some of the more menacing aspects recurring.

Venus trines Chiron tomorrow (Monday 3rd) which sets a healing tone for the beginning of the week.  Healing through the arts is particularly favoured.  Producing a piece of art or music of your own may prove healing for you.  There may be benefits in relationships and financial affairs, too.

In the evening, the Sun in Scorpio sextiles Pluto, which should set things straight psychologically in a fundamental way.  If you are looking for a re-set button, this may be what you need.

The Sun trines Chiron on Wednesday (5th), holding the healing which may have begun on Monday, firming it up and possibly creating something more whole.  For instance, if you produced a piece of artwork, you may now see that it is part of a larger opus.  You see the hologram more clearly.

It’s a week for the Night Owls, as much of the action takes place during the  late evenings this week.  If you are not a Night Owl, and function better first thing in the morning, it may be good to consciously adjust your rhythms this week, e.g. getting up later, so that you function at your best for the main events.

Thursday evening (6th) is a Full Moon at 14 degrees Taurus.  Emotions may swell at that time, perhaps nostalgia too.  With the Sun in Scorpio opposing the Moon, the emotional emphasis is “to have and to hold”, with the realization that releasing and letting go is what is needed;  that there is nothing of substance to have and hold perhaps.

In the late evening of Saturday (8th) Mercury enters Scorpio, travelling from Libra.  You may have been carefully avoiding verbal conflict, employing tact and diplomacy, but now realize that  the time for truth has arrived.  Pussyfooting is no longer working, eggshells have been trodden to smithereens.  There is no other way left than to examine truth, and express it.  Perhaps someone has ignored your hints, and you need to be a little bolder in your phraseology.

The week in bullet points:

  • Tomorrow – healing, and straight psychology
  • Wednesday – more healing
  • Thursday – full emotion
  • Saturday – truth telling