Sunday, 8 November 2009

Tim Davies, Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Tim Davies - Figures in a Landscape

I was pleased to get down to Swansea to see Tim Davies' new show, Between a Rock and a Hard Place at the Glynn Vivian Gallery on Saturday. I enjoyed it more than I expected to. I've always liked Davies' work but I sometimes feel a little suffocated by the political content. This new work was nicely balanced; the political was integrally present but not overbearing. What I actually like most about Davies' work is the process, the meticulous repetition and the materiality, and this show did not disappoint. Throughout the exhibition, he uses postcards as the basis for the work. The foyer was particularly impressive showing the ongoing Figures in a Landscape 2004-08 series of tourist postcards their figures, often in local or 'national' dress, are cut out leaving a ghostly absence shadowed by the sensitive lighting.

Tim Davies - Figures in a Landscape

Installed film sequences in the main gallery of Remembrance Day ceremonies at Aberystwyth and Swansea are timely and poignant. A second film piece, Kilkenny Shift 2009, is aesthetically beautiful and conceptually sensitive - a film sequence ascending and descending the servants' steps in Kilkenny Castle in Ireland. Davies has made previous work using castles as tropes for power, this piece is far more subtle and intimate, commenting on the repetitious and uncelebrated lives of those who gave their lives in service. The message is conveyed through absence and loss - these are themes that resonate throughout the show.
The main gallery shows 40 images, once again using the vehicle of the postcard, each showing the image of a bridge meticulously isolated from its environment through a process of sanding. The images are, again, beautiful. The message is subtle, the bridge as metaphor for connection, power, negotiation. The images also focus in on the structure of the bridge as a strategic military target, a tangible symbol of connection and flow.

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