MASTER OF HIS CRAFT
“PHASE” TIM GRESHAM – TAPESTRY AND PHOTOGRAPHY
14 – 31 OCTOBER 2009
GALLERY 101, 101 COLLINS ST. MELBOURNE.
“PHASE” is Melbourne artist Tim Gresham’s latest solo exhibition of photography and woven tapestry. Held in the upmarket Collins Street precinct of the city at Gallery 101 the show exudes confidence and accomplishment through the work combined with the precise, minimal.
Gresham is a quiet and unasuming artist, dedicated to his practice. He is a Queenslander by birth, but now lives and works in Melbourne where he has had six solo exhibitions and participated in many group shows. His work has been acquired by public and private collections and he has completed several commissions.
In this latest solo show there were 12 small framed tapestries – 15 x 15 cm, 6 medium format tapestries 60 x 60cm and 12 digital Type C prints 60 X 60 cm. The even , square measurements and number of works reflects the precision of technique and image making. Mastery of tapestry weaving and photography is evident in the sharp edges and precisely woven squares and tightly framed photographic images.The skill is in the editing, deciding what to deal with and cutting out all extrenious detail.
Tapestry is by nature a repetitive process, the weaver steadily building the image from base of the loom to the top of the tapestry, picking up the warp and passing through the bobbin thousands of times. Although the weaver learns to automatically pick up every second warp in one direction and the alternate warps in the opposite direction, this process is usually not apparent in the finished work. Traditionally tapestries have had striking, narative images demanding the viewer’s attention. From a short distance away they have read as flat images historically linked to the Fine Art of painting, trying to hide from the lowly craft of weaving. In Gresham’s tapestry it is all about weaving – the rhythm, the repetition and image working intrinsically with the medium. Overlapping, scalloped edge patterns and curved forms undulate and move rhythmically across the surface like groupings of notes in a score of music. Warp is emphasised by pick and pick pattern of the weft making subtle stripes that vibrate throughout the work. Shapes have stepped edges, calculated according to the warp and weft ratio.There is a tension between the given grid format of weaving and the artist’s introduction of fluid design.
Colour in a soft and muted light to mid tone palette of Australian bush hues with white is used to achieve subtlety and softness or vibrancy. Combined with the expert used of the repetoire of colour mixing techniques, there is control of blending soft, feathered edges or making sharp contrast.
The black and white photographs point to the elements in Tim Gresham’s urban environment that inspire his creative mind. Repetition in the surfaces of buildings, shadows softening graphic lines in concrete, reflections in water distorted by a rippling surface. These works share common themes with the tapestries: a sense of time; patterns continuing beyond the frame and contrast of underlying structure with distortion. They assert themselves as highly personal viewpoints of a contemporary city experience.
In all of the works the image extends out from the cropped frame, suggesting infinity. They provide a space to contemplate, to find pleasure in the universal sequences of forms, variations of the hand made and time invested. “Phase” presents classic works to invest in, live with and enjoy into the future.
Valerie Kirk, Tapestry Weaver and Head of Textiles, ANU School of Art, Canberra.