Tom Burrows: Notes On the Tides and The Curve of Time

In his new chapter of work entitled Lunar Cycles, from The Curve of Time series, internationally recognized BC artist Tom Burrows pays homage to the lunar-cycle-driven tidal waters that are integral to The Curve of Time. Here, Tom recalls his first encounter with that tidal power and how it shaped his approach to art. Lunar Cycles opens on April 1 at Bau-Xi Vancouver and runs through April 12, 2023.

Left: Herring, Polymer Resin, 48 x 30 inches. Center: Ripple Rock, Polymer Resin, 48 x 30 inches. Right: Hjorth Bay, Polymer Resin, 48 x 30 inches

I spent my youth far inland from tidal waters. I had no comprehension of the energy contained in their lunar cycles until an incident that occurred while I was doing graduate studies in London.

Through fellow sculptor Jerry Pethick, I was invited on a weekend trip in an old 60-foot wooden North Sea trawler. The boat had recently been purchased by Jerry’s friend Tony, who was converting the trawler into a cruiser. The plan was to visit a small French port on the English Channel. About a dozen people involved would contribute a small sum for fuel and supplies. We were to meet at a pub next to Putney Pier, where the boat had temporary moorage a hundred yards up the Thames River from Putney Bridge. The weekend voyagers arrived at the pub sporadically as Tony became increasingly agitated. Finally, he declared we had to embark immediately even though some of the party had not yet appeared. We hastily downed our pints while Tony untied the trawler's mooring lines.

The source of Tony’s agitation became apparent: we had a limited amount of time to traverse a 75-foot-long arch through the width of Putney Bridge before the rising tide would make the passage impossible and upset the carefully plotted weekend cruise.

As we approached the masonry bridge, it seemed the trawler would pass through as we had more than a foot of clearance between the top of the boat and the rise of the arch. I was in the boat’s bow looking downriver. We were about halfway through the arch when I saw the line of tidal surge approaching. The trawler came to an abrupt and grinding halt as the thickly planked roof of its wheelhouse jammed into the underside of Putney Bridge. It splintered and collapsed as the tide continued to rise. We didn’t make it to France that weekend.

Early works inspired by Tom's rebuilding of the hatch. Left image: two early pieces circa 1970s - L-Untitled; R-Ivory Coast.  Right image: Pollinator, circa 1969. All polymer resin, 48 x 48 inches.

Later, as the wheelhouse was being rebuilt, to replace its shattered wooden hatch, I fashioned a translucent panel from glass fibres and resin. I witnessed the light that the panel diffused, and it led to more than half a century of process to the work in this exhibition.

-Tom Burrows 2023


Left: Stone Anchor, Polymer Resin, 48 x 48 inches. Center: Lilly Islet, Polymer Resin, 48 x 30 inches. Right: Chancellor Channel, Polymer Resin, 48 x 48 inches

Continue browsing
Your Order

You have no items in your selection.