Zuleika Gallery is delighted to present For the Sun Gods, an online exhibition of new works on paper by London-based artist, Tamsin Relly (b.South Africa 1981). Relly’s multi-disciplinary practice includes painting, printmaking and photography and explores the preservation of arboreal and botanical environments through conservation, ubran parks, and memory – be it personal, collective or held within the land.
For the Sun Gods features a new series watercolours and monotypes, which considers the origins and global migration of wild and cultivated plants and flowers, whilst reflecting on the interdependent and reciprocal relationship we have with our vegetal world.
Drawing from both found media imagery and first hand observation, Relly’s references include the Dahlia, indigenous to the mountain regions of Mexico and Guatemala and the South African Pincushion Protea, a tropical flowering shrub native to the artist’s own home country. Working with the fluid and unpredictable qualities of painting and printmaking, these botanical forms break down and lose focus whilst retaining a vibrancy of colour, evoking memories of warmer summer days.
Much of the series has been made in response to frequenting parks in London over the past year of the pandemic and a visit to Worton Organic kitchen garden in Oxfordshire between stretches of lockdown in 2020. During a period when our own movement as individuals has been so restricted, spending time in living green spaces is increasingly recognised as important for personal wellbeing, bringing into question the inequality within our communities around access to parks and gardens.
Relly’s most recent monotypes I am Plant (Pincushion 1, 2 & 3) 2020 introduce an arched shape into her compositions. Suggestive of a window, bell jar or temple, the silhouette invites a sense of reverence for our living world, whilst serving as a reminder of the fragility of our planets ecology and biodiversity, as we have an ever greater impact on it.
“Dahlias first fully drew my attention whilst visiting a kitchen garden in the countryside last summer, between pandemic lockdowns. The petals and tubers are edible, they grow in an impressively diverse range of design and colour and bloom generously through Summer into Autumn. Whilst Dahlias have become a widely celebrated plant species and the pride of flower shows and domestic gardens worldwide, the wildflowers were first cultivated by Aztecs, who are said to have associated them with the Sun Gods. Reflecting on how in a globalised age of dispersed culture, flora and fauna, we can easily lose touch with the origins of things, I wanted to acknowledge these flowers beginnings in the title of the series.” Tamsin Relly.