Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

BEAUTIFUL FRUIT – Tilley Wood+Linda Spowart

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Beautiful Fruit Invite


Beautiful Fruit installation PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Beautiful Fruit installation in the Sidespace Gallery at Salamanca   ……….   PHOTO: Doug Spowart


A Fruitful Place – a review by Victoria Cooper


Place, of course, as opposed to the more generalized ‘site’ or ‘land,’ is a specific collaboration between nature and people, constantly altered and inevitably defined by narratives from the contact zones.[1]

This exhibition is the result of a collaborative interaction between the artists, the cotoneaster tree and its environment. The intent was to create visual responses to observations of the tree and its rhythms over time that forms:

… a dedication to and recording of this tree. Its life is multifaceted, one that connects to and affects the space and people around it. Its vital and variable presence is what they are drawn to and present here. This exhibition is the fruit of the artists and subject together.

Tilley Wood artist with light 4 + light 5, 2019 Oil on canvas ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart


Although Linda and Tilley approached the project from two different perspectives both were influenced by the phenomena of light and wind to define the tree, its form and movement. Tilley’s paintings of the tree evoked a poetic place illuminated by memory. Linda’s prints were layered using cyanotype photograms[2] or inks in contact with parts of the tree and its surroundings, then over printed with gesso and drawings were full of detail referencing the visual language of botanical illustration and empirical scientific evidence gathering.


Debris 1 Linda Spowart 2019Ink, gesso and graphite on cotton .......... PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Debris 1 Linda Spowart 2019Ink, gesso and graphite on cotton ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart


As part of their investigation, the artists individually and collaboratively created through direct contact with parts of the tree: leaves, fruit and branches, they made more cyanotype photograms. These prints were more like impressions, rather than the detailed recording of scientific photographs. On one wall at the entrance to the main gallery there was an impressive installation of these blue prints creating a feeling for the tree’s blue shadowy and dappled light space.


Beautiful Fruit Nos. 3-13 Tilley Wood+Linda Spowart 2019 Wet Cyanotype & gold leaf on cotton


The cotoneaster tree was both subject and collaborator in this exhibition. As part of their investigations, the artists attached drawing devices to branches of the tree in order that it would self record its movement without the intervention of the artists’ hand. This is an important methodology for many artists as it opens up an inclusive space where the agency or ‘voice’ of objects and other life-forms as collaborators can present new and surprising perspectives. Australian artist, Cameron Robbins[3], presented the drawings that were formed through devices attached to a windmill to record the movement of the wind around Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tasmania. Robbins intent was

… to connect to landscape, and to the greater dynamic of the whole climate system; how patterns move through a particular location. For me, that’s the most direct way to access the greater energies and forces around us.’ Cameron Robbins[4]


Tree Drawings #0001- #0026  ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart


Art when made in collaboration with both human and non-human entities involves a corporeal, sensate empathy that evolves over time spent in contact within their space and place. These are dynamic contact zones where human and nature interaction can stimulate the development of alternative views and knowledge to bring fresh ways of understanding the changing world we share with Others. Both Tilley and Linda have engaged with the Place that is the tree, not to objectify or imitate, but to wonder, imagine, transform and be transformed.


Dr Victoria Cooper



[1] Stuart, M & Lippard, L 2010, Michelle Stuart, Sculptural Objects: Journeys In & Out of the Studio, Charta, Milano, page 11.
[2] The Cyanotype process was developed by Sir John Herschel in the 1840’s and at this time 19 th century botanist Anna Atkins used the process to document her plant specimens. The process: water colour paper or cloth is coated with a chemical made by the light sensitive combination of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate. After drying, objects placed on the material and then exposed in sunlight. Ultra-violet light is required and exposure times may be 8-10 minutes although times may vary depending on the time of year – or day. Many photographer also expose enlarged contact negatives of photographs onto the cyanotype emulsion.
[3] Cameron Robbins, Field Lines, MONA see https://mona.net.au/museum/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/cameron-robbins-field-lines
[4] ibid. an in-text quote from the article by the curators, Nicole Durling and Olivier Varenne










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