The Ambiguity between Space and Form

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Tooney Phillips works in a variety of materials and ways of working; primarily drawing, engraving and lithography, but also experiments with non-traditional graphic media such as drawing freehand on computer and Ipad, as well as with CAD and on top of photographs. I find her work to strongly echo her architectural training and background, before shifting to fine art, through its quality of line and formal, geometric structures.

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Phillips is concerned with the potential for ambiguity when marking the boundary between space and form when drawing from life, and it explores this ambiguous relationship in multiple ways through her work. Most her works are based on the medieval villages of France and Spain. She is currently continuing and developing a body of work based on the limestone quarries of Provence, France. The source materials she works from are strongly geometric in character, reflecting her architectural interest and approach to fine art.

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In her largescale drawings she employs a method of combining pencil with liquid media, so that paint and line are built up in transparent layers. They convey a suggestion of formal and spatial construction, however oscillations occur between recessive space and the flatness of the surface, confusing the formal-spatial relationship. To me, the transparent layers are reminiscent of blue-prints of buildings with layers of lines and forms superimposed on top of one another, appearing to share space. Tooney states her interest in transparency does derive from her training as an architect. In architectural drawing the surface is strictly readable, whereas through art a more complex perception of form and space can be explored, in which a strain exists between solid forms or lines and empty space. I find it interesting to see how an artist’s previous experiences and training can have such a strong influence on the art they create.

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About the writer

Tara is an Art Foundation and History of Art graduate born and bred in London. She has travelled the globe extensively, immersing herself in the vibrant arts and cultures the world has to offer, and hopes her next adventure will take her to India! She is currently teaching English as a foreign language whilst enjoying volunteering at Art on a Postcard, and she hopes to break into the art world!