Even with purposefully limited tools, the artworks of Tim Presley always sing

A compilation of artworks and poetry from the artist and musician, Under the Banner of Concern reflects the past five years of Tim's visual output.

27 August 2020

Sometimes it feels impossible to keep tabs on what Tim Presley is up to throughout his various creative outlets. If like us you’re constantly chasing him down different avenues you’ll be pleased to hear about the chance to catch up, via the release of Under the Banner of Concern.

A book of both poetry and drawings largely taken from his 2019 show of the same name, Under the Banner of Concern is the artist’s third published book, following on from 2010’s You Don’t Have Eyes Yet and Mush from 2016. For Tim, this latest release reflects the past five years in its content; he explains how collating it together was a reflective process: “From the start of 2015 I wasn’t doing well, and to see all of this like a diary of almost five years… it made me feel excited but also bittersweet. It did also make me want to continue working, take it as seriously as I would do with music,” he tells It's Nice That.

Initially beginning visual art again as a form of expressive therapy, the practice of painting “was a daily way to shake off anxiety, destructive behaviour and thoughts,” Tim explains. “I honestly didn’t mean for it to take shape,” he adds, noting how it was the musician Cate Le Bon who offered a supportive push to continue. “She put a spark into me, which gave me continued confidence to keep going and explore it.”


Tim Presley: Under the Banner of Concern

In general Tim’s process for creating artworks is “pretty automatic… or, as random as a thought”. Mostly made up of expressive figures, the artist’s works are often made with black ink or paint. To Tim's testament this limited palette is utilised to the absolute maximum and as a viewer your eye is often jumping between stronger, deeper marks, perfectly made smudges and characterful features. Despite each piece featuring many layers, behind the scenes Tim explains the artworks are made entirely without force: “I’ll get a quick urge and get paper, ink, or paint, and a brush… if I hit a moment right, I can be doing it all day and night.”

In fact, forcing works is the opposite of Tim’s practice, and creative ethos, too. When discussing why he tends to pick up the same tools, he simply states “it’s economic,” but also the fact that it feels like a natural extension. “I do want to work on a big canvas, but sometimes when getting prepared for big work, all that prep takes the fun or inspiration out of the moment,” he continues. “Like before sex and getting all dressed up only to get naked again. Kills the mood in a way.” It’s the same process with his music also, noting how “I like to get all the thoughts down as quickly and thoroughly as possible. And also,” he adds darting back to his visual work, “for ink on paper, I love the way ink is absorbed into paper…as if it’s been printed or like a lithograph.”

Released this week via Anthology (you can pick up a copy here), when asking the artist what he hopes readers might feel, or gain from reading Under the Banner of Concern, he answers, “I don’t know. But you know what I was just thinking about? Have you ever heard the legend of ’Testa Di Moro’? It’s a story of a woman who beheads her lover and turns his head into a vase and grows the town’s best basil from it. Her basil is the envy of everyone, and people couldn’t understand why her basil was so good, so the whole town made head shaped vases to grow their own. There’s more to it,” Tim concludes, “but that’s the gist.”

GalleryTim Presley: Under the Banner of Concern (copyright the artist, 2020)

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.


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