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Tim Mara, Portrait of Astrid, 1973
Tim Mara Artist's Alphabet

G, H and I > I: Influences back | start | next |

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Tim, like most Artists, was extremely interested and passionate about the work of other historical and contemporary Artists and often referred to their work and ideas both in the images he produced and in his explanations of them. He was influenced by various Artists during his lifetime and very openly spoke of his admiration of various works (see 'Q' for quotations by Tim on other Artists) .

The range and variety of the Artists who inspired and influenced Tim was considerable and show both his broad knowledge of art and the breadth of his aesthetic interests. His personal collection of Artists books and monographs at his home confirm this and includes publications on all aspects of artistic practice and approach featuring Artists as diverse as Bill Viola, William Morris, Eric Gill and Gilbert and George, amongst countless others, on sculpture, film, theatre, painting and, of course, print.

Tim's earliest acknowledged influence was the art of Henry Moore and other British sculptors such as Anthony Caro, Philip King, Roland Piche and also Eddie Delaney's street pieces which he had seen on the streets of Dublin as a young child and whilst at school.

The work of Moore in this influential formative stage of Tim's development was extremely important as it encouraged him to become directly and practically involved with the making of art in a fairly serious way. It also introduced him to 'Modern Art'. Tim was interested in the way that reality could be subverted and questioned and Moore's work gave him an insight into how this could be achieved.

After a visit to an open-air sculptor show in Battersea Park featuring work by these modernist sculptors which was organised by his school art class, Tim began to emulate their ideas and produced abstract sculpture of which he said he loved making and could at the time have happily made for ever. This was obviously not the case but the influence of modern art and an interest in the possibility of presenting figurative imagery which was affected by abstract qualities and was somehow of perceived reality, would stay with Tim throughout his career.

Another formative influence on Tim was the work of various European avant-garde filmmakers most notably the Italian director Fellini. He had been given a book of black and white Europe film stills for his fifteenth birthday that included images by Fellini and Antonioni. These influenced him sufficiently to begin to develop an ambition to make his own films (the films were never fully realised for several reasons, including financial restrictions, and a replaced passion by the printmaking medium). Tim said of this book "I found the powerful black and white images absolutely incredible. I'm not saying it's the cornerstone of my life, but it gave me an interest in the way images are staged".

The influence of these filmmakers can easily be seen in Tim's Wolverhampton and Royal College of Art prints where he takes on the role of director and producer and where the work has a very distinctive filmic-like narrative sense. These prints also reveal the influence of both the Pop Art and Op Art movements (a comparison which irritated the Artist considerably during his early career but a connection which is unavoidable). Tim was interested in the Pop Artists most notably the work of Richard Hamilton, Andy Warhol, Peter Blake and Eduardo Paolozzi. His work shares many characteristics with theirs, such as the use of everyday objects, contemporary popular subject matter, riotous colour and the use of indirect processes and photographic based or influential techniques.

When he made his claustrophobic and cluttered domestic interiors and the Picnic series in the 1970s the work of the Pop Artists was already well established and known and Tim naturally absorbed some of their energies and interests, managing to develop their concerns whilst retaining a very real sense of unique ownership and idiosyncratic approach.

Tim particularly disliked the comparisons made between his own work and the collages of Richard Hamilton feeling he had more pictorial empathy with Artists such as Piero Della Fransesca, Vermeer and Velasquez.

Velasquez' famous painting 'Las Meninas' was a particularly important influence on Tim's thinking and he said of this work, which is made up of a complicated web of visual clues and devices and features an inside out mirrored reflection of its sitters (the King and Queen of Spain) on its back wall, and both the painter himself and the back of the painting itself revealing its own construction, that "It is saying this is only a picture which helps the viewer to enter the pictorial language, to understand the conventions, and to be drawn into the Artist's world. I always seem to be referring to "Las Meninas' somewhere in my work".

Tim saw 'Las Meninas' in the Prado Museum in Madrid several times and referred to it both visually and verbally frequently throughout his career. He constantly discovered new aspects of its construction, invention and meaning and delighted in revealing his latest discovery of it.

Another influential and favorite painting of Tim's was "Girl Reading Letter at an Open Window' painted by the Dutch Artist Vermeer in 1657, which features on the wall and is echoed in the overall composition of Tim's 'Portrait of Astrid' (featured above). Vermeer is the undisputed master of the interior scene and his use of suspended narrative, stillness, clarity and light, were hugely influential on many of Tim's own ideas and would inspire his work throughout its various permutations and developments.

Vermeer's use of the 'camera obscura' device and his voyeuristic directional role on the painted scene also interested Tim and echoed and confirmed his own creative practices.

These are the main influences on his work but there are also several other Artists, writers and musicians who it is also worth mentioning as being noticeably important to Tim. The Artist Richard Wentworth, who features in the 1980 print 'Picture Window,' had been an influential artist, lecturer and later colleague of Tim's. Both shared a mutual passion for domestic and functional objects and a shared sense of ordered minimalism, clarity and geometry exists in both their work. Tim spoke extremely highly of Wentworth's work and admired his conceptual and analytical approach.

He was also attracted to and supported the work of Helen Chadwick with whom he would spend a great deal of time discussing aspects of art theory and aesthetic possibility. Both Artists shared an interest in the nature of objects and had been mutually influenced by various theories and theoreticians such as Richard Gregory's researches into visual perception and Rupert Sheldrake's ideas on morphic resonance.

Also, amongst his contempories, he was interested in and influenced by a number of musicians particularly Captain Beefheart in the 1970s, whose attitude and music influenced the creation of the 1970 print 'Mirror Man' which was named after a song by the group. Another musical hero was David Byrne, the front man of the art house pop group 'Talking Heads', whose versatility, progressiveness and eccentricities Tim greatly admired.

© Text: Mark Hampson / Images: Belinda Mara
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