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Tamlin Blake gets inspired by 4th Industrial Revolution

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Blake invites her audience to follow a journey connecting the past, the present and the future.   

The Everard Read Gallery presents Tied by Time, a new exhibition by Tamlin Blake, ending 13 January 2020. 

Taking four years to complete, Tied by Time was set up as an enquiry into the fourth industrial revolution, characterised by media and political hype, and little common understanding of its scope or its potential impact on everyday life. 

Blake invites her audience to follow a journey connecting the past, the present and the future.  

Blake offers us a bird’s eye view of History and this view comes to us with the advantage of knowing both the gains of industrial progress and its costs; personal, social and environmental.

The first tapestry in the installation takes the viewer to the modernization of the textile industry through use of steam and other technological innovations, leading to the first industrial revolution.  

Her second panel continues to reference the history of industrial progress with the invention of electricity – the second industrial revolution – and the introduction of automation and conveyor belt production.  

The third panel alludes to the next phase of society’s development – the computer age and the digital revolution. This is done through ambiguous, library-like wall that reveals its digital make up on closer inspection.  

The fourth panel is the most personal, referencing Blakes’ own children. 

The artist weaves herself into the sweeping story of progress on several levels.  

Her own questioning presence is implied through the image of the protagonist in the first tapestry. 

The sense of transience and fragility of our existence is another key theme that occupies the artist and that is evoked in her unique technique, where shreds of newspapers, which hold innumerable human stories and become obsolete the moment they come out, are dyed and spun into tapestry thread. 

Telling stories using tapestries 

According to the EverardBlake’s monumental tapestry installation is akin to a Renaissance fresco in its magnitude of scale, the sweeping drama of its thematic conception and the brilliance of its detail. 

Walking from panel to panel following the thread of the story, the viewer embarks on an actual journey through the installation that is set up as a path where a new chapter opens as we move along.  

On the one hand, Blake offers us a bird’s eye view of History and this view comes to us with the advantage of knowing both the gains of industrial progress and its costs; personal, social and environmental.  

On the other hand, this view is deeply personal to the artist and it becomes personal to us as we physically make our way through the work. 

Addressing the personal, intimate, human aspects of history is central to Blake’s practice. 

The artist 

Tamlin Blake is a professional multi-media South African artist. She holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from the University of Stellenbosch. 

The major themes of Blake’s work have revolved around cross-cultural South African symbols of wealth and status. More recently though she is interested in what constitutes and underpins everyone’s sense of belonging and identity. 

Her work can be found in collections including: 

  • Contemporary Collection for The New Hollard House at Villa Arcadia 
  • The Spier Holdings Contemporary Art Collection 
  • Iziko Art Collections (South African National Gallery) 
  • South African Breweries 
  • Absolut Vodka 
  • Nandos (UK)University of Limerick (Ireland) 
  • Carnegie Mellon University (USA). 

Catch Tied by Time this festive season at Everard Read in Rosebank, Johannesburg, every Monday to Friday 9am – 6pm and Saturday’s 9am – 1pm, free of charge. 

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