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Tim Mara, Glass Jug, 1983
Tim Mara Artist's Alphabet

M, N and O > M: Mirrored, Metalic, Reflective and Transparent Material back | start | next |

back to the alphabet grid Tim was extremely fascinated with manufactured man-made materials especially those which had mirrored, metallic, reflective or transparent qualities. He was interested in the difficulties involved in representing their qualities and the different ways in which their surfaces absorbed or reflected light and created shadows.

He was attracted to 'shiny' objects and the potential glamour and preciousness of often quite ordinary domestic materials, their texture, surface information and personality, and he explored aspects of this attraction throughout his lifetime.

One aspect of this interest seems to be the artistic and technical absurdity and problematic nature of recreating metallic, glass and other manufactured materials in ink on paper and he obviously delighted in developing innovative technical processes which could convincingly depict illusions and descriptions of their inherent qualities.

This selection and use of such material runs consistently throughout every period of his practice and his analysis and dissection of these properties is repeatedly investigated from the earliest prints such as 'Mirror Man', 1970 and 'Portrait of Astrid', 1973 right through to 'Reeded Glass and Shadow' in 1997 and 'Wire Glass and Carrier Bag' in 1996.

His fascination with these materials and objects is unavoidably linked with his interest in light sources and the various ways in which light affects and interacts with surface and materials. If we compare details from the various periods of Tim's creative output (a related exercise to this can be viewed in the 'O' section of the Artists Alphabet) it becomes apparent that he was very interested in such notions and that materials of this nature and an investigation of how light affected them was a major motivation in his visual language.

In his prints he often reveals the essential character of ordinary things and in such a way reveals aspects of them which may otherwise be neglected due to familiarity or disregard. A watering can becomes jewel like through the highlighting of its shiny and galvanized surface and the many shimmering reflections which its form creates, a washing-up bowl transforms into a floating halo of manufactured plastic perfection in 'Can and Bowl', 1992.

In many other prints simple functional objects when subjected to complex posterisation printing processes become extraordinarily beautiful icons. Aluminum, plastic, foil, leather, steel and glass are translated via print into desirable, valuable, precious substances.

In 'Picture Window'1980 a moulded laminated table top takes on the look of a pure blue lake or hard edged minimal sculpture of manufactured elegance. It is represented as an object of perfection resplendent with its many pure reflections and smooth surface. In the same print a rectangular piece of red cellophane floats past the face of a man wearing tinted sunglasses. The transparent qualities of both of these objects helps to create the illusion of three dimensional space and layers within the print, casting shadows and reflecting various light sources. This work reveals evidence of Tim's interest in depicting contrasting and juxtaposed elements combining both hard and soft and also natural and synthetic materials and surfaces.

In 'Glass Jug, 1983 (above) Tim again investigates transparent materials. In this case the difficulty of describing the action of clear water pouring from a clear glass water jug. He achieves this difficult task by presenting the object on a chequerboard background in black and neutral grey, using the distortions made by the shape of the object on the geometric pattern to reveal its form and identity.

Another triumph of the depiction of transparent and reflective materials is 'Coal and Diamonds', 1985, which develops Tim's previous attempts at description of metallic, and glass objects to new heights via repeated over printings and attention to minute photographic detail. His skill in this area continued to grow throughout the years and he utilised Intaglio, silkscreen and lithographic techniques for this purpose. This can be seen with notable success in the series of gloves he produced between 1993 and 1996, which explore a whole range of represented materials and in the final lithographs he produced during 1997. In these lithographic works Tim explores the use of glass panels, rubber sheeting and the ways in which our physical human presence casts imprints and creates images and impressions on the space around us.

His use of various types of patterned and textured glass surfaces and the ways in which they act as both illusionistic and distortion devices and filters is particularly interesting in its continuation of themes explored much earlier in his work.

Tim's use of glass and mirrored materials in these early prints creates images which seem to have an active, reflective, and shimmering feel about them. 'The Launderette', '4 Door Saloon' and 'The Laundromat' produced in 1976 are all full of shining and transparent surfaces, made up of ceramic tiles, glass windows, chrome and plastic objects and metal constructions. They are a wealth of exciting and varied materials, which are both contrasting and contradictory in choice.

The materials are combined with various image reflections, highlights and light sources, which are both natural and manufactured. Together they gradually reveal many subtleties of information and imagery which at a first glance are not readily apparent.

Tim's interest in mirrors can be traced back to many of the great masters of art most notably Velasquez, Vermeer, Holbien and Van Eyck all of whom used mirrors to produce compositional complexities involving space, illusion and light. He openly acknowledged the influence of these Artists referencing them in both verbal quotations and visual homage.

© Text: Mark Hampson / Images: Belinda Mara
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