Tom Palin: the tent

Palin, Tom ORCID logoORCID: (2016) Tom Palin: the tent. [Show/Exhibition]


The Tent resides within a series of small-scale oil paintings on wood that have occupied me for the past five years. Completed in 2013, it formed part of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2015, where it hung in the landscape room in Burlington House, curated by Jock McFadyen. For this and a companion piece – The Hill – I was the recipient of a British Institution Award. The Tent was loaned to Dean Clough, from a private collection. The paintings in this series are landscapes, and share a concern for a singular location or place, at once familiar or commonplace. The image-aspect of a painting resides within a surface, and its accessibility – outward facing, static and open – acts as the way in. Only then, when an acquaintance has been made can a painting begin its work. This work can be seen as a drawing together and disclosure of painterly possibilities, residual references and processes of making: as duration, intimation and desire. For it is in being a painting that a painting keeps itself busy, and, in being The Tent, such busyness is – as is the case with all paintings – necessarily circumscribed. The painting is small, rough, shiny and framed; its image of tent and cloud fashioned from not inscribed upon its surface, fusing form and content together. This continues an ongoing investigation into the origins and destinations of paintings (the making and receiving aspects). The context is landscape painting, and discourses to do with place and facture within both Romantic and formalist traditions. I draw from memory, allowing the material, manual aspects of the work to inaugur, extend and fashion the stuff of paint into a formal configuration…into a representation of sorts. This arrangement of brush marks of colour and tone takes up where memory falters or fabricates, continuing a journey of its own as the processes of painting evolve. At points in time the relationship between leader and follower – between memory and the possibilities set in motion by the image – reverses, leaving me in some doubt as to the identity of the author of the final arrangement.

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