A jour­ney into the mag­pie mind of Tessa Asquith-Lamb

The Herald Magazine - - Arts VISUAL - JAN PA­TIENCE

THE world of “lost” things of­fers end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for artists, who are all sto­ry­tellers at heart. Where did these things come from, who made them, what are they?

Artist Tessa Asquith-Lamb has al­ways been fas­ci­nated by the tales be­hind ob­jects, so much so that when she was a lit­tle girl, grow­ing up in York­shire, she made her own mu­seum in the porch of her house, or­gan­is­ing her col­lec­tion of ob­jects and writ­ing lit­tle cards for them.

“My work is for all those peo­ple who live out sto­ries in their imag­i­na­tions,” she ex­plains. “Each im­age I cre­ate is as­sem­bled from draw­ings in my sketch­books of beau­ti­ful things found in mu­se­ums, in the depths of the woods, re­mem­bered mo­ments, care­fully ob­served self por­traits, and ob­jects from my col­lec­tion of Vic­to­ri­ana and child­hood trea­sures.”

In the past year, Asquith-Lamb’s over­ac­tive imag­i­na­tion has been fired into or­bit fol­low­ing an in­vi­ta­tion from Falkirk Com­mu­nity Trust’s ex­hi­bi­tions of­fi­cer, Gil­lian Smith, at the start of 2018 to have a root around into the mu­seum col­lec­tion at Cal­len­dar House in Falkirk.

The re­sult­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, Drawn from the Past: The Mu­seum Mind of Tessa Asquith-Lamb, is an ab­so­lute joy. In two small rooms, Asquith-Lamb uses the mu­seum col­lec­tions as in­spi­ra­tion for her own pic­to­rial flights-of-fancy. This en­com­passes de­tailed etch­ings, pa­per-cuts, po­etry and her own col­lec­tion of ephemera, in­clud­ing 19th-cen­tury toys and dec­o­ra­tive arts, vin­tage glass bird Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, crack­ers and ceram­ics.

Works from the likes of Alan Davie, Wil­helmina Barns-Gra­ham and Asquith-Lamb’s own artist fa­ther, Howard Asquith, sit com­pan­ion­ably along­side these art­works and ob­jects.

One of her new etch­ings, Pa­per Mem­o­ries, which fea­tures Cal­len­dar House in the back­ground, forms part of a se­ries called Rey­nard Con­sid­ers. Rey­nard is a fox who prowls around Asquith-Lamb’s imag­i­na­tion as well as her art. Float­ing around in the fore­ground, there are ob­jects she has sketched from the Falkirk Com­mu­nity Trust col­lec­tions, in­clud­ing a ter­ra­cotta statue of a god­dess with a dog and an­cient ice-skates found un­der a win­dow sash in an old shop in Falkirk.

There is a ref­er­ence in this work to the al­most-for­got­ten art of “pin­prick

Tessa Asquith-Lamb’s ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures etch­ings such as Pa­per Mem­o­ries (be­low), pa­per-cuts and items from her col­lec­tion of Vic­to­ri­ana

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