Last Chance to See the Lilian Tyrrell Retrospective at Spaces

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Wed, 03/08/2006 - 01:26.


You may have read the reviews but have you seen the show yourself? Lilian  Tyrrell is one of the best artists in NEO, perhaps in the United States. An exhibition of her work at Spaces Gallery is in its last days and closes with a reception Friday evening (see the Realneo calendar for details).

Though the show, titled "The Persistence of Conscience" is retrospective of nearly 30 years of her career (1979-2005), some of her most impressive works were not included because they were too large. One of these works, Long Sky, which is 260' long is represented by photographs and a beautiful pastel drawing that is more than a preparatory sketch, it can stand on its own as a work of art.


Tyrrell's Disaster Blanket Series dominates the exhibition. Each work in the series is a haunting politically charged image that appears to have been inspired from photo journalism. Tyrrell's work must be considered within the history of tapestry. Not so long ago tapestry was a much more respected and valued medium. Renown artists of the Baroque and 18th-century such as Rubens and Boucher created some of their most ambitious compositions for tapestry. Tapestry was also more costly to create than painting.  She also deserves to be considered within the context of political art -- Goya and more specifically Gericault's Raft of the Medusa come to mind. Many of Tyrrells works are woven with a dark boarder or frame around the central image. Tyrrell uses the frame cleverly to break boundaries between the viewers space and the picture plane. A blanket depicting an elephant, killed by poachers for its tusks is particularly effective because of this.


Tyrrell addresses a wide range of issues: war, terrorism, destruction of the environment, genocide, animal rights, abortion, aids, and medical ethics. Most of the works in the show are woven on a loom; however a few are felted, such as The Aids Virus (in the center below) Technically the woven works are most impressive. The high quality of Tyrrells weaving can only be truly appreciated in person. In Disaster Blanket 13: The Last Hope/War and Famine the flies that pester the starving figure are hand sewn in metalic thread -- an incredibly naturalistic detail.  This and many other works in the show have a powerful emotional impact on the viewer, though Tyrrell excludes preachy messages.

"The Persistence of Conscience" was curated well by William Busta. As a retrospective it successfully convey's Tyrrell's technical consistency and innovation. You will leave the exhibition impressed by the aesthetic quality of the works and challenged by their messages.




elephant.jpg23.29 KB
skulls.jpg34.54 KB
medical 3.jpg17.8 KB
animal torture.jpg34.81 KB