Deborah Timperley ‘A dialogue at the Threshold’
How did this series begin? My pieces which make up my series ‘A Dialogue at the Threshold’ stand alone without needing explanation other than their names. The viewer can take from them what resonates without further ado. But beneath their surface is a journey which I have found fascinating.
It started with an element of a functional piece I made some years ago which can be described briefly as a circle of 23.5ct gold cast within clear glass surrounded by a cube of black glass. It had had an intriguing optical quality as the gold was trapped beneath the surface, both impenetrable and contained, a play between the inside and the outside.
My journey began by asking myself what questions did it pose so that I could find out what resonated with me and make a deeper exploration.
So my research included time at the British Museum. Drawing objects which spoke to me, but without analysis at this stage. When I spread them all out later I discovered that most things I lit upon had an inside, an interior. They included domes and bells, openings obscured by grids, reliquaries containing precious things, stone tablets and envelopes with seals
All of these are connected in that they have an outer form encasing an inner something else. The inside and the outside exists because of the other.
As well as visual research I also read, particularly about Islamic and Yemeni architecture.
There was something which intrigued me about Islamic dwellings – they are sometimes called ‘introverted forms’ as they reveal very little to the outside tending to be simple geometric forms while the inside however may be an exquisitely decorated world.
The unseen inside of my form needed to be an element in whatever shape I found to be appropriate.
As well as the visual research and the reading I explored the work of several artists, including their writing.
Sometimes at length, other times it was just a sentence, for example, a jeweller who said she ‘explores the framing of an enclosed space’. I am always looking for a visual connection with something I am striving for.
Andy Goldsworthy, is a British artist who works in the natural landscape, he did a cycle of many pieces called enclosure. These pieces are set in an agricultural context and are about boundaries – the need to enclose something. A significant sentence of his was:
“It is the nature of an enclosure that its interior space appears more intense and concentrated than what lies outside it, so that you are drawn to look in”.
He talks about a spatial dialogue between the inside and the outside.
It was at this point that I know that the THRESHOLD was important as it’s the counterpoint between the inside and outside and that helped me to understand that was to be my focus.
Another important aspect of my evolution were words. All along I kept a list of words which resonated and helped me to make connections.
The words were really helpful – like threshold, allure, transition –I’ve used a lot of these in my titles and descriptions of my pieces.
Also from the words I found the title of my work – A Dialogue at the Threshold.
It describes the opening in a form which both links and is the boundary to the outside. The interplay between the interior and the exterior articulates a Dialogue at the Threshold
So how did I find my forms? This was through the constant making of maquettes – much more than drawing. I found was that the form depended on what it was I wanted to convey. Rather than ‘form follows function’ my mantra is ‘construction follows concept’!
For example in some I wanted an interior that could be sensed but not seen; or where the interior was implied rather than described. Sometimes I wanted to make it very clear that the interior was impenetrable, accessibility denied
Something else I need to mention is the Surface. The surface has always been important in my work. Very often I use textured fabrics as I love their expressive potential. I like the contrasts of their surface as well as the incidents in the surface, such as stray threads, frayed edges. I am also interested by the compositions created by the construction such as seams and folds.
I hope that this gives you an insight into my approach and that in my cast reality there is an expressive ambiguity that creates a sense of a Dialogue at the Threshold.
Deborah Timperley 2015