This website was put together during my seventieth year and consequently I was able to access examples of work from fifty years of a personal arts practice
The challenge of creating a coherent and accessible structure to frame work from these fifty years reflects what has been referred to as the distinction between an ‘arts practice’ and an ‘arts career’. The resulting structure has been organised to highlight works that were identified as being critical moments in these fifty years of practice.
This structure involves a division into three sections.
The first section Archive 1970 – 2000 is made up primarily of works that explore questions about the nature of abstract painting, and also test the potential of drawing as a critical practice.
Section Two, Work 2004 – 2014 starts with a series of collaborative projects with Anne Grebby that engage with attitudes and issues associated with “painting in an expanded field”. Later the introduction of the concept of “Re-Representation” in about 2010 was important in the development of an understanding of drawing as an analytical, critical process.
The final section Recent/Current Work 2014 – present, is made up of two groupings of work. One group, Recent Work includes examples of works that have been resolved to an appropriate level, while the other group, Current Work, is made up of a selection of “works in progress” that are considered to be unresolved. It is clear that the relationship between these groupings of work is unavoidably ambiguous and will always be in a constant state of flux.
It has proved challenging to arrive at a simple descriptive account of themes and underlying issues that have been addressed across these fifty years. There are, however, two ongoing concerns that have been at the core of works throughout these years. Firstly, there is an approach that involves an exchange between formal-material considerations and the range of the ‘references’ that have been alluded to by the work. But ‘reference’, in this sense, goes beyond merely ‘subject’ or ‘content’ and involves the sense of both an acknowledged and accessible ‘reference’ and a more covert or embedded-solipsist ‘reference’. In more recent works, such a binary strategy has been considered as the distinction between painting as image (or representation) and painting as object (or process).
A second constant feature from across the fifty years is the use of some notion of ‘storytelling’ to frame an arts practice. These include the use of a score or script to structure the development of a work, a story-form that emerges from/through practice, and then more recently a kind of abstracted narrative structure that progressively evolves into a concern for the operation of causality within pictorial narrative structures.
Tim Dunbar is an artist whose work has involved painting, installation-construction, performance and in particular a critical drawing practice. He is also interested in different approaches to the use of written texts both as an integral feature of artworks, and as more reflective written commentaries. He was also an arts educator who taught fine art for over thirty-five years including a time as Course Leader for Visual Arts at the University of Salford, and as Programme Leader for Fine Art in the School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University. He retired in 2009 from his position as Director of Studies in Art and Media, MMU.