Artist Q & A: Tom Burrows

1) What is “The Curve of Time” as described in M.W. Blanchet’s book and what does it mean to you? What inspired the appropriation of this title?

The curve of time is the basis of modern physics and Buddhist teaching (if time does exist). I am agnostic.

Tom Burrows at Bau-Xi Gallery Toronto

2) Is there a passage in M.W. Blanchet’s book that inspired this exhibition or articulates the theme, concept or mood of this body of work?

Possibly the chapter where Blanchet repairs Caprice’s motor, toiling much like within my studio process. What most inspired me about the book is the exquisite quality of the writing. The underlying motive of alternative housing remains silent but is so relevant to this particular moment.

3) How is this new series informed by your travels along the coast of British Columbia? In what ways does your experience of the landscape manifest itself in your work, and does it influence your use of colour, light and your treatment of the panel surface?

I have always felt better living beside or on the North West ocean, even at the foot of Main Street. It’s probably the ever-changing light and reflections.

Tom Burrows at Bau-Xi Gallery Toronto

4) What is the significance of the compass bearings, landmarks and geographic features that compose the titles of this exhibition? How do your titles and compositions interact? Are your titles related to the visual quality or emotional memory of a given place?

The qualities of my panels arise from the exploration of material and process. Unlike most fine arts media, there is a rich spectrum of unexplored physical properties in my adopted medium. A title / story is attached to a panel only after its material completion. The title / story serves the panel as a memory device (a mnemonic), rather than the panel serving to illustrate a narrative (an illustration). Through this device (the mnemonic) the panels attempt to remain, without external reference, in a purely visual / physical realm.

Tom Burrows at Bau-Xi Gallery Toronto

5) Your works are often grouped into polyptychs, how does the production of polyptychs differ from that of singular pieces, when in your process do you determine groupings and how do you determine the ways in which they are arranged?

They are not initially conceived of as in-combination. Some things just seem to go together.

6) What was it about this body of work that inspired you to experiment with new materials and revisit old techniques?  How does this body of work interact with the concept of time? 

My role as an artist is to construct a set of parameters within which media such as pigmented polyester or glazed porcelain self-generate image, parameters akin to the climatic conditions that allow ice crystals to form snowflakes. I do try to avoid gesture. Any emotional or narrative content is imposed by the viewer anthropomorphizing the medium. The medium is the message. It glows with an inner luminance, a trace to the Chauvet Cave. (The Curve of Time)

8) What prompted your thematic return to the landscape of the Pacific Coast and how does it relate to your journey as an artist?

There is an abundance of geographic titles on the maps of the West Coast to be appropriated for my panels. Also, I’m studying sailing as a second language, calisthenics for the aging mind. It involves maps.



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