Artists often work in isolation and the creation of a work of art may be a solitary activity. But the creative process is by no means insular. The art environment is made up of a great diversity of people working across a variety of areas. Each feeds off and feeds into the greater art community. Just such an interaction inspired Layer and Splice.
The inspiration for Tanya Gilbert’s current interests, the layered way of working and subsequently the ideas behind this exhibition, arose from a talk by art conservator Sarah Hillary, who was presenting a paper on the wide range of often unusual materials used by Colin McCahon. Hillary showed slides of microscopic cross-sections of McCahon’s work which revealed the layers of paint beneath the surface. These slides spoke of the decisions McCahon made while he was working - they encapsulated moments of time and his painting process. They told a story that was not clearly evident on the surface of paintings. This led Gilbert to her own explorations in which she dissects the traditional act of painting. The layering, building up of paint and decision-making is pulled apart and made visible.
Layer and Splice is a site specific installation of composited and imaginary cross-sections of painting which references the work of artists of the past, the present and the future. The installation investigates certain moments of the painterly act, the application of media, the layering of glazes of colour, the modifying and changing of the surface. In any work of art, these are all eventually presented to the viewer but are not necessarily visible. Tanya Gilbert’s use of a transparent medium facilitates a finished work of art in which all the preparatory and successive stages of its development are visible to the viewer. Her work comments on the practice, dialogue and analysis of art. It is part of the ongoing search for an understanding of artists, their context, and the impact of art on its viewers.
→ Tanya Gilbert: Layer and Splice, 2004, exhibition card