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Tim Mara, Modern Times Revisited
Tim Mara Artist's Alphabet

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back to the alphabet grid In 1976 Tim was awarded the major travel prize at The Royal College of Art at the same time as his friend and occasional collaborator Chris Plowman was awarded the Berger Paints Travel Prize. Both awards where bursaries in the region of '500 given for the purpose of international travel and research which they decided to use to visit America together in the autumn of the same year. They embarked upon a tour of the country and for several weeks based themselves in New York City where they made friends with several Artists and local personalities.

They were introduced to a Manhattan based arts collective, who collaborated under the name 'BOBS BAND', by Ken Kusmirek a friend and barman at the Soho Darts Bar who was himself involved in the collective. 'BOBS BAND' were part of the fine arts program of the cultural council foundation, (the origins of the name is unclear) and organised events, exhibitions and site-specific projects throughout the Manhattan area in the 1970's and 80's, one of which was a series called 'Municipal Parking Garage' which consisted of four individual exhibitions which took place in ten window showcases on 8th Ave at 53rd St in mid town, Manhattan, New York.

Tim and Chris affiliated themselves with the New Yorkers and adopted the title of 'BOBS BAND UK' and along with Tim's brother Joe, who is a resident of the City, contributed to this project via the 3rd exhibition in the series. The project was funded by the New York State Council on the arts and the national endowment for the arts and consisted of ten temporary site-specific mixed media installations one in each of the window showcases. 'BOBS BAND UK' works were exhibited here from the 18th January through to February the 21st, 1981.

The work they produced was an extension of the Artists' print activities and developed themes and concerns relating to their previous work using combinations of materials and objects in often-bizarre surrealistic combinations and juxtapositions.

The windows were approximately 92cm wide by 46cm tall by 46cm depth and had the look and scale of TV screens, which interested both the Artists. They filled these spaces with various diverse compositions which included a still life set up consisting of fruit bowl, cans and bottles all painted in a camouflage design, Artist paint tubes with coloured plastic flex leaking from their open nozzles suggesting a moment of suspended animation, a sliced and individually packaged salami sausage re-organised to re-create its original form, a sliced bread installation, rows of goldfish bowls filled with jelly moulded crocodiles and dead fish, goldfish in test tubes and other compositions using electrical objects such as a fan and doorbell, which were manipulated and altered contrary to their original functions.

The resulting works were eye catching and theatrical and have a very real sense of creative playfulness and experimentation echoing the ideas of Marcel Duchamp and preceding the work of Damien Hirst with his sliced objects and preserved animals. Many of the ideas presented in the windows would later be adapted and refined in printed art works and their use of juxtapositions, illusions and repetitions investigated further.

Tim and Chris remained friends and discussed ideas and projects with 'BOBS BAND' and the Artists continued to visit each other in their respective home cities. Unfortunately, this was the sole collaborative venture in which the UK Artists were involved. The project is documented by a series of 10 black and white postcards that present images from the window installations. This is the only known existing documentation of the collaboration.

© Text: Mark Hampson / Images: Belinda Mara
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