9 May - 15 June 2003, Tacit Contemporary Art, Thornbury

Stop for a moment. Wait...reflect upon the things that have happened in the last 12 years. Can you see the highlights and the key moments there as images in your mind? No, no, focus on the highlights, not the things that would worry you to remember. Timothy Bateson has taken this time to view the development of work over a succession of years, and we are privileged to be able to be a part of it. Here in the spread of images, the threads that link them together can be seen in a way that may be missed if viewing works in isolation. This is a chance to summon up courage for the next part of the journey, it is a necessary reflective moment.

What do we associate with a pause? It is signalled by a punctuation mark, a stop for breath in a sentence, to intake vital air in order to continue our message (or, to give added weight to our words for effect). It may be used in conversation to allow for consideration of our position before answering a question. When watching a video, it allows for the chance to step away to the bathroom or to make another coffee without missing anything. Or it enables a closer examination and assessment of a key moment before continuing. The concept of a pause is a moment to stop and look around. A pause is not a finality, it is not the end, just a quiet moment before continuing on a journey.

It is a great exercise for the artist to pause and survey images from many years of production. It is a chance to consider the purpose of the works, the threads that link the individual pieces or bodies of work together, and a chance to see the visual journey thus far spreading like a map behind. It calls attention to the terrain travelled, like having a picnic on a mountain side lookout during a vacation trip.

For Bateson, the journey from 1991 – 2003 has encompassed a range of subjects from abstraction to figurative self-portraiture, and yet the content of the work has remained steady. We see a consistent investigation into layering imagery through a history of marks, with each piece a journey of visual evidence in itself. Through various processes, Bateson explores the tactility of ‘surface’ – from the surface of the matrix upon which he creates, and the allusions to the surfaces of renovation and domestic interior spaces, to the skin surface of the body itself. His work displays a desire to create strong visual design through a limited palette – through setting limitations of colour the artist challenges the composition to work through subtle shifts.

Bateson’s works across the years since 1991 display a fascination with time both as a notion for working with, and as a concept. From the Temporal Landscape exhibition of 1993, the grand scale landscape abstractions pose a time and a space in constant fleeting change – the shifting clouds of a Turner atmosphere. The Palimpsest series refer to a surface that has been erased and written over, forming a sense of a previous message/image, again the visual history. Later bodies of work create surfaces akin to crumbling kitchen tiles and wallpapers. Aged and time worn they are literally becoming the embedded layers of a constantly re-written self. For the process of the visual journey is not just a stacking of layers, but addition and subtraction to create a depth that can only happen when things evolve that way – over time.

With the latest work, the sequenced grid format has crept into the body image, creating a body that is fractured and patched. And the masculine form begins to break down again, crumbling from its glossy photographic illusion of ‘really existing in time’. The lithographic works that constitute this next step present the body as it becomes a broken translucent veil. I am waiting…to see what time will help Bateson to ‘evolve’ from this reflection.

Kerrilee Ninnis
Tacit Contemporary Art Gallery, Thornbury