Tamlin Blake

3 January, 2013

Tamlin Blake has participated in the Spier' s Artist Patronage Programme for three years, enabling her to produce her latest body of work entitled 'Altered Yarns' (2011-13).

Tamlin Blake is best known for her ongoing pursuit to annul the accepted boundaries that exist between illustration, craft and art. Her work engages marginalised art mediums and techniques in an exploration of concepts such as belonging and alienation, from indigenous versus alien vegetation, to cultural identity and acceptance on a human level.

Her latest body of work, 'Altered Yarns' comprises a series of tapestries woven from recycled, handspun newspaper. This special project results from an ongoing collaboration between the artist and Spier. While the exhibition forms part of the Spier Collection, the new limited edition, Spier publication, 'Tamlin Blake' is available for purchase.

Created by Blake over an extended and labour-intensive period of time, the collection of tapestry artworks is created from sheets of newspaper transformed into "… coloured 'yarns' by dying the paper, cutting it into narrow strips, joining the strips and spinning them on a homemade drop spindle to create a relatively strong, textured thread." * Mirroring this intricate process, Blake' s works explore concepts concerning the many ways in which our lives are shaped by the stories of others. Blake explains her practice, I am interested in working, visually and conceptually, with how stories weave themselves around us, influencing what we do and how we think. Without us being aware, the news, gossip and other peoples' successes and tragedies form the background fabric of our everyday lives. These stories filter through to us, affect our thinking and form the backbone of our society. Tapestry itself is traditionally a form of story telling. Like the newspaper they are printed on, these used and discarded tales have been reinvented and recycled, woven back and forth in an intricate pattern to form images, which then in turn create a new contemporary narrative. (2011)

Blake majored in sculpture during her undergraduate studies, and then specialised in botanical art and received both her Honours (1999) and Masters Degree (2001) from the University of Stellenbosch. She lives and works in Riebeek West near Cape Town, South Africa. * Jackie McInnes 2011 (Rayner, L. Ed. 2011. Tamlin Blake: Spier)

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