Thursday, 10 January 2013


Maitland Regional Art Gallery until 20th January 2013.
Lezlie Tilleys work is courtesy of Brenda May Gallery

Installations By Lezlie Tilley and Patricia Wilson-Adams

There are some qualities-some incorporate things,
That have a double life….
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a two-fold Silence[1]

Edgar Allan Poe

Patricia Wilson- Adams
Woolgathering, Wittgenstein, Black and me (detail) 2011
Artists book, unique state intaglio on saar paper, letterpress, tin stencils, oriental
binding, 4.5 cm x variable.
Image: More from the Box, Tamworth, NSW, 2011.

Follow the Silence has been for both artists the result of much meditation in the studio following profound personal experiences in nature where silence has engendered a sense of limitlessness, an engagement with self and a realisation that there is a landscape (inner and outer) open for interpretation – twin entities. 

For Lezlie Tilley, a keen open water diver,  it has been the silence of an underwater landscape experienced as a world of indefinable boundaries forever moving away from one’s own body and always experienced in weightless silence.  While for Patricia Wilson- Adams, encounters with a silent world are in relation to the dry landscapes of inland Australia, where one is immersed in a  world of smell, receding plains, heat haze and shimmer which fuse into an experiential boundlessness.   A profound effect on her thinking has been a great sense of tragedy on learning of a recent study in the USA where a scientist, Davyd Betchkal, set up microphones for several years in one of the most remote areas in Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve.  This study revealed that there are, on average, only 36 days a year where the landscape is free of man made mechanical noises.[i]

Detail of Lezlie Tilleys work..3072 fragments from a coral reef, 2012, Shells and coral on paper.
In this exhibition the viewer will find the use of both reductionist aesthetics and the modernist grid.  The physical properties of the grid offer stasis, a lack of hierarchy, centre and inflection, which emphasises the transformative promise of this work.  Attention is given to the simplicity of the works’ structure, to their ordered qualities and muteness, which directs the viewer back upon the quality of his or her own perceptions.  Here we have an art that eliminates the descriptive, excludes the pictorial, narrative and the fictive, thus focusing on the essential in form, creating what is often referred to as a “truth”.  A Gestalt is set up which can be characterised by there being an equality of parts, repetition and often a neutrality of either colour and/or surfaces.  The work in this exhibition can be more easily understood in terms of “Minimalism (which) deals with universality, of the empowerment and amplification of form and colour without the hindering visual details of the natural world.  The idea of the work, and the concept, is in what you see.  Which is why this type of work is so difficult”[ii]. 

The works in Follow the Silence draw the viewer in, establishing an intimate connection through a play of internal relations; connections set up by the nature of materials, of size, scale, volume and placement of component parts.  However the most seductive of these connections for the viewer is made in relation to the unusual nature of the materials used.  Curiously these works then operate to force the viewer to a distance from where the component parts become critical elements of an integrated whole and where the architectural space in which these works are shown also demands recognition as a key aesthetic element.

Thus, works such as Markers for a silent place , Coral fragments arranged according to the laws of chance, and Silence & long you lie, through their aesthetic declarations and disclosures of form, offer the viewer a mode of withdrawal from a noise driven reality. Through their modesty and ambition, these works intensively explore conceptual threads and experiential outcomes. The experience of these installations is both educational and therapeutic.[iii] That is, the viewer moves from a state of chaos to inner equilibrium and focused attention; as a consequence the viewer is urged to reflect on the present at a profoundly physical level.

The fullest comprehension of all the pieces in this exhibition demands time, and elicits the acknowledgement of temporality as the medium of aesthetic experience and human cognition. Silence, according to both Tilley and Wilson-Adams is an experience foreign to most people; it promotes an awareness of space and a consciousness of concerns well beyond the quotidian - the solidity and shade of silence is possibly confirmed.

Dr. Aubry Byrnes 
Patricia Wilson-Adams
October 2012

[i]  Kim Tingly Whisper of the Wild in New York Times Magazine  March 18, 2012 pp. 42-47
[ii] Eva McGovern  A Chance to Listen and Learn Once More in 1 Malaysia Contemporary Art Exhibition  pub Tourism Malaysia circa 2011.  McGovern is writing in reference to the work of Liew Kwai Fei
[iii] Robert Storr interview with Ilya Kabakov, as cited in Art in Theory 1900- 2000 – An Anthology
    of Changing Ideas, Edited by Charles Harrison & Paul Wood, Blackwell Publishing, 2003, p832.