A Moment in Time That Mattered to Someone

Roma Tearne
14 May 2009 to 20 June 2009

“I once found a photograph on a seat in the underground. It was black-and-white and creased as if it had been kept in a wallet for years. Later I noticed someone had drawn all over it. This set me thinking about the ways in which the photographic image can be altered. A photograph is taken with a view of eternity in mind. Otherwise why take it? It is meant as an aid to memory, for memory as we know, fails. Its loss is something we all fear and the photograph stands between that loss and our fear.”

The paintings in the series ‘A Moment In Time’ evoke anxiety. In one of them a boy is in flight; he crosses a desert coloured by panic. In another, giant trees are submerged by the sea or dominate a hillside. Collages from this same series are the detritus of letter writing. In these, anxiety is represented by images of dogs or monkeys. Yellowed endpapers, the fragmentary marks of handwriting, stamps and postmarks are all signs of absence. A line of glass jars in another room display photographic images half-submerged in water. The distortion created by the refraction of the water, which becomes further deformed as the viewer moves past, gives the appearance of disturbed memories. Roma Tearne’s new body of work explores the erasure of memory that occurred in her personal life and this also provides the material for both her novel Brixton Beach and her visual work.

Tearne is a Sri Lankan-born artist and writer living and working in Britain. She came her with her parents at the age of ten. Training as a painter, she completed her MA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford. For nearly twenty-five years her work as painter, installation artist, and filmmaker has dealt with the traces of history and memory within public and private spaces. Roma is currently a Creative Writing Fellow at Brookes University, Oxford. This exhibition marks her return to 198 and coincides with the publication of her third novel, Brixton Beach. Signed copies of the book (published in June by Harper Collins), will be available at the gallery from 29th May 2009.

Listen to Roma Tearne on BBC Radio 4 Womans Hour 28th May 2009