Tim Main has recently been working on new work inspired by the tradition of mural painting named “Barn Stars” in the USA (brought to Pennsylvanian by Germanic, Swedish, and Dutch settlers), but essentially evoking symbolism and patterns that date back to antiquity. Curator and writer/editor, Melissa Reimer, comments that although Main created three works specifically for Sculpture on the Peninsula in late January, he is working towards the potential for different mount options for the works to be part of the Tai Tapu Sculpture Garden’s annual Autumn Exhibition in March.
Main’s enthusiasm for the English Arts and Crafts Movement and the work of William Morris, and its attention to nature and design as its subjects is certainly shared by American Dutch artists in Pennsylvania during the early decades of the twentieth century. Characterised by an iconography that is centred upon colourful, circular designs, referencing stars, sunbursts, moons within complex, changing geometric patterns of positive and negative spaces and forms, in 2019 they were the subject of a survey exhibition at the Glencairn Museum, and Pennsylvania Cultural Heritage Center, Kutztown University.
Described in the accompanying catalogue for the exhibition as ‘complex, geometric, yet deceptively simple, these abstract representations of heavenly bodies once saturated the rural landscape, and now serve as cultural beacons of the robust and persistent presence of the Pennsylvania Dutch, who once settled and still maintain a strong presence in the region.... [They are regarded] as something to be cherished ... The rich diversity of fold art patterns found on barns in the Dutch Country is rivaled only by the diversity of beliefs surrounding their origins, application and history, and this textures the regional experience and appreciation for the tradition.’
Main has responded in new works that reference Aotearoa and indigenous plant designs based on the native clematis, rata and Mt Cook buttercup/lily, described by Reimer as ‘simple yet dramatic and beautiful. They have three layers of aluminium and finished in car paint and are 1500mm in diameter, which further contributes to their visual intensity. Those accustomed to Main’s hand-worked wood and ceramic will be surprised by the new materials and more vibrant colour palette, though in truth they are a very natural evolution of his celestial works (clematis rounds) and rose windows.’
‘The Barn Stars are very much seen as blessings on buildings and therefore the occupants and immediate environment. But there are layers and layers of meaning which the reductive abstract works belie. Tim describes his determination to work within the existing visual language of this European tradition while recreating them within a New Zealand context. These constraints have prevented him from going off on too many tangents, though he says the possibilities are endless and in addition to the three he has created he has ideas for more.’
Tim Main is one of more than 40 artists participating in The Tai Tapu Sculpture Garden’s Annual Autumn Exhibition 2022. Open Saturdays and Sundays, 11am to 3pm over three weekends: 5 and 6, 12 and 13, and 19 and 20 March – or by appointment. Tai Tapu Sculpture Garden: 1/199 Cossars Road, RD 2, Christchurch 7672. See: https://taitapusculpturegarden.co.nz/
- Tim Main, Aluminium (3mm sheet) layered into low relief, sprayed epoxy paint (automotive paint), 1480mm in diameter.