TIM HARROLD has an eye for the lost. Like Joseph Cornell, who loved to roam Manhattan’s dime stores in search of antique books, postcards, and small objects, amassing a vast collection of treasured finds that became the raw materials for his assemblages, Harrold also works with “found” objects, collecting disparate and discarded objects before combining them in boxes and frames to create 3D tableaux.
His perception is that the finding and restoring of lost objects by giving new life and fresh context is symbolic of a lost sheep being found by the Good Shepherd.
The boxes and frames within which he stages these scenes become theatres of the mind in which surreal visual parables are enacted for the “prophocation” of the viewer, their unlikely juxtapositions hinting at hidden realities. Harrold plays with words, incorporating text into his creations and creating phrases and words, as well as images. The artist Micah Purnell described Harrold’s work as both prophetic and provocative by combining those words as “prophocative”. Harrold uses the term “perceptualism”, meaning points and places where the conceptual and the metaphysical meet, to describe his practice.
Perceptualism involves re-combining and reconciling the disparate and disconnected, and Harrold sees this creative action as mirroring God’s love expressed in both creation and salvation. His series of ten photomontages, where fragments of maps are collaged within a heart-shaped mount to which texts of love have been added, is one expression of this perception.
Drawer-ing #1 is an assemblage that also explores this same perception. The drawer that frames this piece contains a jigsaw puzzle of a woman with the pieces containing the face absent, and the space left by the missing pieces painted gold. Below the jigsaw, a broken egg sits on an armchair, and the missing pieces of the puzzle are located in a sideboard. On this stage, where games of lost and found are performed, nothing is hidden from the sight of a loving God whose light shines in, and from, the flaws in our constructed identities as much, if not more, than in our constructs themselves. The egg must be broken for new life to emerge.
Thirteen wine glasses are placed in and on a box divided into three sections, which are numbered from one to 13, but with the number seven absent. Eleven of the glasses contain white stones. One is upturned. Two are on the top of the box, and one of these leans against the other. This is Harrold’s version of The Last Supper: the glasses representing Christ and his disciples. Judas, as the fallen disciple, is the upturned glass, while John, who leaned on Christ during the supper, is represented by the leaning glass. The white stones symbolise the newfound purity of Christ’s followers in God’s sight, while Christ, as the purifier, is represented both by the upstanding glass that needs no stone, and by the missing number seven — the number of perfection, completeness, and totality.
Harrold creates assemblages and collages with concepts that intrigue, puzzle, and provoke through surreal juxtaposition, but which are parabolic in their symbolism and numinosity. That such work is being created and exhibited in Thurrock, a place of industry and transport rather than art, could also be viewed as surreal.
The Well House Gallery is Thurrock’s first permanent dedicated gallery space, but the Gallery, Harrold, and other associated artists are all linked to the Thurrock Art Trail, itself part of the Essex Summer of Art, and an artistic heritage and life that extends from Constable country to Colchester’s Firstsite, the east of England’s organisation for the contemporary visual arts.
The vision of Well House as a gallery that champions artists, and connects creative people in the area, developed from four years of running exhibitions linked to 24/7 prayer communities, and demonstrates what can be achieved when artists and entrepreneurs who are Christians engage constructively with creatives in their communities and regions.
“The Perceptualist Eye” is at Well House Gallery, High Road, Horndon-on-the-Hill, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, until 10 June.