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Ti m S h aw Awa k e n F r om The Dr e a m of R e a l i t y

Following the torches as they dipped and swayed in the darkness, they climbed mountain paths with head thrown back and eyes glazed, dancing to the beat of the drum which stirred their blood (or ‘staggered drunkenly with what was known as the Dionysus gait’) ‘In this state of ekstasis or enthusiasmos, they abandoned themselves, dancing wildly and shouting ‘Euoi!’ (the god’s name) and at that moment of intense rapture became identified with the god himself. They became filled with his spirit and acquired divine powers. Euripides in Delphi by Peter Hoyle

For the modern astronomer one universe is not enough. New observations suggest other universes separate from our own. Strange quirks in the radiation from the Big Bang from which our universe exploded billions of years ago may indicate the pull of other universes that predate the one we know. Out there, things may not be as they have seemed. On a parallel path, artists have long realised that behind our personal experience lie other worlds. This is the realm of Tim Shaw’s art; the meeting of the conscious and the unconscious mind. Throughout his career, Shaw has felt that it’s his job to draw out something from these other worlds and present them to us. In ‘Awaken from the Dream of Reality’ he does so by examining one of the oldest forms of human activity – ritual. All rituals have one key component – repetition. It’s through repetition that ritual does its work. Each ritual, old or new, has its established form, place and date in our lives: the baptism of children, the ringing of bells, singing a sacred song, passing round the wine or a joint, placing the mobile phone always just so on the table, lovers undressing, updating Facebook, pouring out the tea, laying out the dead. All these rituals take the everyday and load it with an added experience of being human, being individuals, yet together. For Tim Shaw ritual goes further. As for the ancients, for Shaw ritual is a door into another world. He has long been fascinated by human beings’ need to dissolve normality, leave reason behind and reach deeper into our selves. According to Carl Jung, we can only be complete human beings if we reconcile the workings of our conscious and unconscious minds. Tim Shaw instinctively recognises this as a human need. For this reason, ritualistic figures are recurring motifs in his work. Because of this, each year on May Day, Shaw is to be found wearing his habitual fedora among the crowd at Padstow for the Obby Oss Festival. Anyone who has

followed this festival will attest to its strange hold over its participants.


The Oss itself looks little like a horse, nor any hobby horse for that matter; it’s a black cylindrical drum propelled wildly by a man wearing what looks like an African mask. As the Oss whirls and sways violently through the village, it is accompanied by drummers and initiates garlanded with spring flowers and occasionally lubricated by beer. The Oss is fun but also violent and predatory. It rushes up to young women, taking them under its black skirts, bestowing fertility. In a softer mood, it stops at the homes of the elderly, bowing tenderly to the inhabitants in a form of benediction. The link is forged between sexuality, death and rebirth. In late evening the crowd sings the Oss a lullaby. Tears stream down faces, fingertips stretch out for one last blessing before the Oss goes into its stable until the following spring. The ritual ends, the Oss sleeps, the village snaps out of the dream. Time rushes forward again, the fishing boats bob in the harbour, there are children to get to school. But the inner spirit is refreshed, the life force recharged. Shaw also sees a further dimension: the oscillating movement of the Oss is reminiscent of waves on a shore, evoking Padstow’s maritime tradition. In the exhibition, the Obby Oss is represented both in maquette form and in video. Shaw’s work emphasises the role of release – and pleasure - through ritual, the intensity of feeling unavailable in the daily round. At a music festival in 2009 he watched a fantastically dressed couple cavort under the influence of ketamine. In the work entitled ‘K’, two masked figures dance crazily under the spell of the drug. With characteristic humour, Shaw has referred to this work by an alternative title, ‘The Bisto Kids Gone Wrong.’ It is apt: one dancer swings wildly, offering the drug on a ladle while, mid-gyration, the other dancer dips forward and accepts the offering, its face surreally distorted to sprout a bee-like proboscis. They are suspended in time for Shaw has transfixed them in sculpture. The moment has the transgressive power of a pagan Annunciation. In ‘The Rites of Dionysus’, figures also dance, inhabiting a trance-like sensuality in 4

in which they can be penetrated by the god and become exalted. The figures on show are maquettes for the full-scale installation at the Eden Project near St Austell. In this major commission, Shaw was asked to create a work based on man’s relationship with the vine. The god’s followers, the Maenads, dance in a frenzy among the vines. In the centre stands Dionysus in his guise as a bull, representing what Shaw calls ‘the wild force of nature.’ There’s a further link to the Obby Oss with the Armagh Rhymers. In their anthropomorphic costumes they suggest a world in which our human and animal natures conjoin. What is hedonism, enquires Shaw, if it is not to break us out of the humdrum into the magnificent and transformative – and perhaps even towards something dangerous? When The Doors sang, ‘Break on through to the other side’ they called for an experience Shaw would endorse. The Rhymers are represented here in the three-screen video installation ‘Awake from the Dream of Reality’; including images of the Obby Oss festival and the Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels carnival. Having long ago turned its back on major Christian themes such as the Holy Family, Western art has not abandoned its interest in the transcendent. So much of the finest modern art has sprung from the spiritual – Malevich, Kandinsky, Brancusi, among others. Shaw’s work calls out in continuation. As the visitor to the exhibition moves from floor to floor, from room to room, he or she will be struck by the range of Shaw’s work and its sources, but also by the unity in diversity. Tim Shaw’s art is timely work in uncertain times. It’s a call to embrace the physical and the nonphysical – an echo of W B Yeats’s great aching enquiry: ‘how can we know the dancer from the dance?’ Shaw suggests we can all dance and be the better for it. Don Jordan, 2013 5



Rites of Dionysus I, II, III archival print on paper (ed 16) | 46 x 46 cm 9

‘The Night’ (Maquette for The Rites of Dionysus) bronze (ed 3) | 170 (width) x 120 (depth) x 23 (height) cm 10



Maenad I bronze (ed 8) | 30 cm (height) 13

Maenad II bronze (ed 8) | 20 cm (height) 14

Maenad III bronze (ed 8) | 20 cm (height) 15

Maenad IV bronze (ed 8) | 20 cm (height) 16

Maenad V bronze (ed 8) | 19 cm (height) 17

Maenad VI bronze (ed 8) | 22 cm (height) 18


Rituals 20



Obby Oss & Dancers bronze (ed 8) | 28 cm (height) x 66 (width) x 50 (length) 23

Obby Oss in Front of the Crucifixion bronze (ed 8) | 40 cm (height) x 66 (width x 50 (length) 24



Obby Oss bronze (ed 8) | 40 cm (height) 27

Awaken from the Dream of Reality film stills 28



11 th July archival print on paper (ed 3) | 24 x 33 cm (each image) 31

‘In intoxication, physical or spiritual, the initiate recovers an intensity of feeling which prudence had destroyed; he finds the world full of delight and beauty, and his imagination is suddenly liberated from the prison of everyday preoccupations’ Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

K 32



Ketamine mixed media lifesize sculpture installation 35

K 1 Maquette bronze (ed 8) | 18 cm (height) x 35 (width) cm 36



K 2 Maquette bronze (ed 8) | 18 cm (height) x 48 (width) cm 39

Benediction 1 archival print on paper (ed 16) | 97 x 71 cm 40

Benediction 2 archival print on paper (ed 16) | 97 x 71 cm 41


2013 2012 2011 2010 2009

Awaken From The Dream of Reality, Millennium (Solo) Bronze, De Queeste, Belgium Rituals are Tellers of Us, Newlyn Art Gallery Limbo, Truro Arts Festival Dark Rooms, Old School, Helston Why Bother with the Truth When the Myth is More Important, Riflemaker, London (Solo) Parliament, Jam Records, Falmouth, Curated by Olivia Gray (Solo) Royal Academy Summer Show, London Sculptors’ Drawings, Works on Paper, Pangolin Gallery London PiH Contemporaries Auction, Bonhams London Launch Exhibition, Threadneedle Space, London Origins of The Drummer, Millennium, St. Ives (Solo) Royal Academy Summer Show, London The Exquisite Trove, Newlyn Art Gallery Material Worlds, F.E McWilliam Gallery, Northern Ireland The House of Fairy Tales, Millennium, St. Ives Riflemaker at The Kenneth Armitage Foundation, London (Solo) Volta, Art Basel In The Mix, Pangolin Gallery, London Casting A Dark Democracy, Kenneth Armitage Foundation, London (Solo) Future History, Goldfish Fine Art, Cornwall (Solo) Threadneedle Prize, Mall Galleries, London Icons, 108 Fine Art, Harrogate Move, Goldfish Fine Art at Vyner Street, London Politics Pays Back, Kowalsky Gallery @ DACS, London Margins, Sherborne House Open 07, Sherborne, Dorset Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London No Title, Goldfish Fine Art, Cornwall (Solo) Spontaneous Combustion, Newlyn Art Gallery Fragments from the Middle World, Truro Cathedral, Cornwall (Solo) Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum The Sculpture Show, Mullan Gallery, Belfast Drawing the Line, Newlyn Art Gallery Drummer of Light, Truro Museum, Cornwall La Corrida: Dreams In Red, Falmouth Public Art Gallery, Cornwall (Solo) La Corrida: Dreams In Red, Duncan Campbell Gallery, London (Solo) Resident artists, Casa Manilva, Delfina Studio Trust, Spain Fragments from Middle World, Duncan Campbell Gallery, London (Solo) Images of Christ, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Fragments from Middle World, Albemarle Gallery, London (Solo)

2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 1999 1997 1996 1995 1993 1992


2013 2012 2011 2009 - 11 2008 2007 2006 2005 2003 2000 - 04 1997 1996

What God of Love Inspires Such Hatred in the Hearts of Men, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Selected Judge for Threadneedle Prize The Green Man, Antony Estate, Torpoint, Cornwall (Carew-Pole Garden Trust) Falmouth Art Gallery Collection UCA Farnham Collection The Drummer, Lemon Quay, Truro, Cornwall The Minotaur, The Royal Opera House, London The Federation of British Artists Selectors’ Choice, Threadneedle Prize Silenus, David Roberts Art Foundation Casting a Dark Democracy Maquette, David Roberts Art Foundation Kenneth Armitage Sculpture Fellowship Award, London (& Foundation Collection) The Mullan Prize, Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition Prince of Wales Bursary Award, The British School at Athens (& Foundation Collection) First Prize, Millfield Open Rites of Dionysus, The Eden Project, Cornwall Prize Winner, Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London Delfina Studio Trust Award (& Foundatin Collection)


2011 2009 2008 2007 2003

The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, Brian Sewell, Evening Standard It’s Not all Doom and Gloom at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition The Genuine Article, Cornwall Today Roger Taylor Unveils Controversial Cornish Statue in Truro, Western Morning News The Threadneedle Prize at the Mall Galleries, Financial Times The New Curiosity Shop, GQ, Sophie Lewis Casting A Dark Democracy Review, Dazed magazine online Casting A Dark Democracy Review, Art Forum, Gilda Williams Casting A Dark Democracy Review, Financial Times, Jackie Wullschlager Casting A Dark Democracy, Critic’s Choice, Financial Times Casting A Dark Democracy Review, Time Out, Francis Gooding & Critics Choice The Genuine Article, Cornwall Today, Alex Wade Penzance Turns Regeneration into a Fine Art, The Observer, Alex Wade No Bull – The Covent Garden Monster, The Evening Standard, Georgina Littejohn Politics Pays Back Review, The Spectator, Mark Glazebrook Is This the New Brutalism?, The Times, Hester Westley New Face of Cornish Art, The Times, Laura Gascoigne Sherborne House OPEN 07, Big Issue August Brian Sewell & The Art of Insulting your Hosts, The Independent, Ian Herbert Sunday Times Culture Magazine, Richard Brooks Landscapes & Desire, Catherine Tuck, Sutton Publishing Catching the Wave: Contemporary Art and Artists in Cornwall, Tom Cross, Halsgrove Eden: Tim Smit, Bantam Press

Aknowledgments: A special thank you to Joseph Clarke for his immense support and dedication, and to Hollie Clarke and Sarah Goldbart at Millennium Peter Hampel for allowing wild thoughts to run rampant amongst the vines, Tim Smit, Sue Hill, Glennys Pritchard and the extended team at Eden for their support during and after the creation of ‘The Rites of Dionysus’ Don Jordan for his insightful essay Photography: Steve Tanner ‘The Rites of Dionysus 1, 2 & 3’ Luke Champion ‘Mid-summer at Chyglidden’ (front cover image) Technical Assistance : John Ensor : bronze casting David Handford for solving all matters : sound and motion Thanos Polymeneas : sound recording Alban Roinard for technical assistance on the video ‘Awaken from the Dream of Reality’ To the people of Padstow and Ottery St.Mary for keeping old customs alive, and in particular to Dara Vallely and Anne for allowing ‘the mummers tongue to hoar amongst the civilised tongue’ To my partner Olivia, for light, love and the breath of fresh air Lastly, I dedicate this work to my mother for a lifetime’s love and support, and who once said ‘Give flowers to the living not the dead’

Published by Millennium to coincide with the exhibition ‘Awaken from the Dream of Reality’ by Tim Shaw All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers Publication produced by Impact Printing Services ( Interview Film by Alban Roinard and Joseph Clarke

ISBN 978-1-905772-62-9

MILLENNIUM S t r e e t -an-Pol S t . I v es C o r n wall 0 1 7 3 6 793121 m a i l @ m i l l e n n i u m g a l l e r y. c o . u k w w w. m i l l e n n i u m g a l l e r y. c o . u k

Tim Shaw 'Awaken from the Dream of Reality  

Hard back booklet with slideshow and interview dvd to accompany the exhibition 'Awaken from the Dream of Reality' by Tim Shaw