This piece was the result of a Children's Project where artists worked with children in hospitals to create pieces for wards. This image is set in Namibia, South Africa - a location that is distinctive for its red sand. The colours used help to reflect the isolation and desiccation of the place. The animals are transparent figures that stand out but also blend with the landscape. They are based on primitive rock paintings, using thin white lines and emphasizing the borders.
The viewer can discover a fluorescent rectangle and a triangular sunshade, in the middle and right corner of the canvas. This is a distinctive gesture of the artist who is always looking for man-made signs in inhospitable places. These signs and the red sand mountains help to bring different planes and to reinforce the perspective. In the horizon a darker and defined line stops your vision and encourages you to notice the darker mountain that lies in the background. The white clouds contrast with the bright blue sky and give you an impression of distance.
Gill prefers to explore the extreme landscape that takes her far from the domestic and academic minutiae of her city life. She works with a dedication, modesty and great subtlety, creating wide open surfaces, translucent layered panoramas inspired by the natural elements, but often interrupted by a small but significant human presence. Be it a small house, a flapping poster, or a set of distant wind turbines, Gill's use of the lithographic medium manipulates our eye across the condensed surface, giving the viewer that prolonged sense of depth and satisfaction as from, almost, a hand painted surface. This sense of her work developing as if a painting in slow motion, gives her work its power. The sweeping landscapes and seascapes form a counterpoint to the domestic discipline of the lithographic process. Yet the very elements of geology and meteorology are echoed in the technical form of the process.
Gill explains her working process as follows - "My work is mainly in lithography. I work directly on the stone, without too much preliminary drawing, with one stone leading to the next, interacting and responding to each layer of colour, rather than having a rigid preset idea of the final image. As an experienced lithographer I can now enjoy employing a multitude of techniques in a medium which is fundamentally based on the antipathy of grease and water. Soap washes, maniere noire, acid biting, traditional tusche washes and crayon, can be exploited to achieve just what I want, sometimes combining them with screen printed layers and chine colle. I am interested in the influence of man on seemingly natural, often remote and harsh, environments. I have used landscapes as diverse as the Namib Desert, the Arctic and Orkney in my images."
Colour is an important consideration for Gill as she sees the potential with lithography to build up layers of colour to express depth and intensity. Much of her work explores remote, bleak environments in Scotland and she utilises colours that are muted and dark, reflecting the mood and feeling of the place. In similar ways this work has portrayed a specific setting with a carefully chosen colour palette.
She says that “I hope there’s something in my pieces which humanises the experiences of being in a hospital. The images contain not stories, but triggers to arouse their interest and allow them to weave their own narrative.” The intention was for the view to have "parts of the image where the eye can rest on the horizon of the artwork".
Gill Tyson was born in 1956 in Lancashire and studied Fine Art at the Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 1979. Based in Edinburgh, she is a painter and printmaker: she has been heavily involved with the Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop and served as its chairperson from 1982-86.
Her work is featured in many public collections, including the Smithsonian Institution, Aberdeen Art Gallery, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Parliamentary Art Collection in the House of Lords. She has travelled widely through India, the Middle East, America and Europe. She continues to actively exhibit her work and has been chosen to represent Britain at the 6th International Kyoto Hanga, International Printmaking Exhibition in Japan.
Art in Healthcare's blog entry about Gill Tyson