04 February 2012


To view the new work of Lezlie Tilley is to enter into a Euclidian world, where we become conscious of an order that not only respects a geometry with which we think we are familiar, but at another level we are dealing with the aftermath of a process that is almost cabalistic in nature. Tilley has begun with a simple and playful idea where she deconstructs a novel by eliminating for example all the letter “a”s from a page by punching a set of cards to represent these vacancies, thus setting up a randomness that fights to be controlled – a choice has been made without the consequences having been previously known.

This serendipitous event becomes for Tilley synonymous with her ever present attention to the demands of drawing and it is here that she speaks of “a world of line that describes pathways, meeting places and a documenting of time.” Her clarity of thinking is ever present, the aesthetic is “tight” while the materiality of the works describes a space that becomes architectural in its command of our visual field. Her use of media forces one to acknowledge its linear crispness and clarity, thus reinforcing a way of thinking about drawing. Here no time is wasted on flamboyance or the unnecessary gestural mark.

Lezlie Tilley, 'Preface' 2011

As in previous works Tilley recognises the great debt that must be paid to the work of countless unknown craftswomen who made lace, patchwork and weavings. Tilley has always drawn inspiration from these predecessors. It is therefore not unprecedented to learn that she has also looked at some of the earliest forms of punchcard weaving where industrial weaving was simplified when the Jacquard loom was invented. These looms are controlled by a series of punched cards with each card representing a corresponding row in the design. There is also a link to our earliest forms of computer programming and Tilley recounts some of her early employment experiences using punched tape, then used for type setting.

Tilley’s works are generative, beginning as a series of punched templates and resulting in a matrix which is notable for being both complex and simple at the one viewing. A matrix affords one the ability to have many views at once and it is therefore no accident that these works fuse both figure and ground providing the viewer with a complex range of responses to lines, shapes and spaces that seem to shift, describing a slightly disorienting, ephemeral space. Here one experiences a unity of vision, or in the words of Eckhart Tolle, the Canadian writer, “a great silent space (that ) holds all of nature in its embrace. It also holds you.”1

Patricia Wilson-Adams/ Jan 2012
Conjoint Senior Lecturer
The University of Newcastle

1. Eckhart Tolle Stillness Speaks: meditative thoughts New World Library, Novato Ca and Namaste Publishing Vancouver, 2003

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