Bernard Jacobson Gallery – ‘William Tillyer – The Palmer Paintings’ (1st May – 30th May 2015)
When you first walk into William Tillyer’s exhibition at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery you come across watercolour pieces comprised of interestingly shaped paper and framing. The fluidity of the work made me think more of seascapes as opposed to the cloudscapes I was expecting to see. As I followed the work through the gallery the each piece became more faded in appearance with select details throughout the work popping out and catching your gaze. It was these small details that entice you into the work and draw you in closer taking you to this curious state of wanting to find more in the abstract forms and marks.
Palmer XI by William Tillyer
Moving into the main gallery, I was engulfed in a completely different feeling about the work. The pieces had transformed from the fluid watercolours through to the dreamy and faded watercolours to bold and strong acrylic works. The texture Tillyer created within these larger works made you want to move closer as with the smaller more intimate pieces, however to get the full power and experience of the work you wanted to step as far back as possible so that the full abstract nature of the work could transform in your mind into all these possibilities. When I first looked at these powerful paintings I could not see cloudscapes, again I saw more landscapes, and after a discussion with Emma I realised this was due to the framing of the work. The framing and the backing to certain pieces hanging in the gallery meant they became really heavy to view, when I associate clouds with being light and airy.
The best piece of the show for me was by far the ‘Palmer Triple’, which consisted of three hanging meshes with no backing on them (as you would imagine them to be in his studio when they are just mere works in progress). This new freedom to the work and the way it had been allowed to just hang from the ceiling lifted it above the others and gave it the floaty and airy feeling the work needed. To me this was the only piece I could relate to being a cloudscape, encouraged by the fact the piece was built up of more lighter tones and the forms that had manifested in the texture translated in to being more organic and fresh to the imagination. The ‘Palmer Triple’ gave me a greater appreciation for the amount of work Tillyer had put in to these pieces, especially as I know I would struggle to work backwards.