Tim Sainsbury by Tim Sainsbury

Painting, is a highly personal activity. A unique impulsive statement or record about an experience, felt, observed, or imagined. Concepts and experiences are common ground, its how the individual translates and personalizes an idea that takes it into the region of an art form. Therefore the most mundane can take on significance, becoming sometimes exciting, sometimes profound, and at the very least always interesting.

An aspect I find suspect about art and artists is the frequently pretentious talk which, when examined, frequently turns out to be “hot air” and its that commodity that baffled brains. To my mind having to talk about a picture is a certain “turn off” and a way of killing the painting – dead! Much better to allow the viewer to ask questions. Each viewer will then approach the painting on his/her own terms without preconceptions – questions will then be individualistic and will draw the artist out making him more aware of his work – I have known viewers to mention aspects of my paintings that I was totally unaware of.

Perhaps an artist task may be to explain the objective, leaving the subjective open to interpretation. The problem with all of this is that often viewers do not like to think, they would frequently prefer to be told.

Coming as I do from an agricultural, non-conformist rural background some paintings are of figures in landscapes, people at work or at rural functions. The Chapels, those small isolated buildings that drew congregations from large areas I find interesting. They hold in their cold stones the memories of burials and baptisms, of joy and sorrow and sometimes feature in my paintings. These places have strong association for me. The years of boyhood in South Wales come back clearly across the time span. In particular I remember Sundays. Solemn and darkly dressed people attending Chapel, the sermons were sometimes “hell fire” with the local preacher thundering at his “flock”. I remember those, not that they did me any good – but mainly I remember the sombreness heightened in winter by the stark trees and dismal low skies. On weekdays these same people, including the preacher, would be seen at their work, hedging, feeding stock, ploughing, killing chickens etc. all the myriad tasks of wresting a living from the land. Both my Grandfathers had small holdings of ground, maybe five or six acres, with mixed stock so there was always something of interest going on. Haymaking was a family event – the small fields were cut, gathered and stacked entirely by hand.

In those days Chepstow had a military hospital peopled by the permanently wounded and shell shocked survivors of The First World War. Groups of these men in their blue suits, white shirts, and red ties would be out and about the town. Some of these ex-soldiers still suffered, and in their mental conflict would frequently fall down in violent fits, terrible, but full of interest to small children such as myself.

Sometime during my early teens I read Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man” which has been and still is a starting point for some of my more literal paintings.

Therefore the paintings run in series - 1/Figures in landscapes 2/Landscapes - 3/Men in blue suits - 4/The Illustrated men. Of course there are paintings that lie entirely outside of these confines, “The Hermaphrodite” being an example.

Tim Sainsbury – July 2003 – The Illustrated Gallery.


Tim Sainsbury comments on the newly found 'treasure' at Sussex University UK

Sussex University UK 2005 - "Another hidden treasure has been found in the Lancaster House storeroom" -  Rita Pickett, Lancs House Porter, found an oil painting by Timothy Sainsbury which had been lost since 1976".

Karen Watson from the Special Collections Department at the University of Sussex Library has kindly provided sizes and an image of the painting. In return Tim wrote the following which gives his view of current styles and inspirations (The Library is responsible for the artworks and they recently completed an RSLP funded project to re-house and re-catalogue the collection):

Tim writes - The painting in question dates from late 1963 or '64 and was probably included in the one man exhibition held at the university about that time. I don't think the painting has a title, so "untitled" is as good as any. There were about 30 of these abstract paintings produced around that time, though I continued the theme of suns & moons into works using metal collage. During this period I was using a lot of mixed media and I think the blue background to the painting is probably a shoe polish (produced by "Tuxan"). I also used bitumen based paint which proved to be very unstable - so goodness knows what happened to those particular paintings - I seem to recall that the Students Union had one of the metal and bitumen pieces. From about 1966 the abstract work gradually became more figurative, though still using the metal collage technique. Work became based on Landscape, Animal Skulls, Helmeted Heads, etc. Nowadays Landscape has become the main theme, often with large foreground figures. Drawing from my Rural South Wales background, chapel themes and people at work frequently  occur. All my output these days is from memory and imagination. Paintings tend to be smaller due to restrictions of storage and studio space. I also no longer use unstable medias, except in small 'sketchbook' ideas.


Tim Sainsbury.Aug2005.


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