Tim Craven paints dense and intricate, close landscapes of woodland and water courses. He is drawn to complex and rhythmic, natural imagery when flattened and abstracted by photography. His work explores the tension between hand-made mark-making and photo-mechanical form and the alchemy of myriads of tiny abstract shapes combining to create illusion and depth.
After training in fine art and the conservation of paintings, Craven joined the staff of Southampton City Art Gallery in 1980. Working up close with one of the finest regional public collections of art, spanning eight centuries for over 30 years has proved a privileged stimulus for his own art practice which he has always rigorously pursued. His work is therefore inevitably informed by a diverse range of style and ideas. He admires the English pastoral landscape tradition, notably the Pre-Raphaelite landscape painters such as J W Inchbold, and its links with Surrealism through Paul Nash and others as well as various abstract and contemporary movements including Op Art and The Systems Group.
His distinctive influences however are the densely patterned paintings of Charles Ginner of the Post-Impressionist Camden Town Group, and the work of his Birmingham born friend, John Salt, a celebrated first generation New York School Photorealist, who employs fine stencils with an airbrush.
Craven’s watercolours are often monochrome or in muted colour evoking memory and nostalgia. He is also interested in the notions of symbolism in eighteenth century landscape painting and poetry: panoramic landscape references the joining up of society and the spread of civilizing ideas whereas occluded landscape from low vantage points is a metaphor for privacy, consumption, introspection and possession.
1953 Born in Birmingham
1973-6 Stourbridge College of Art, fine art
Midlands Open Under 25, first prize 197 first-equal prize,
1975 and prize winner 1976
Northern Young Contemporaries, Whitworth Art Gallery,
British Realists, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 1976
1977-9 Gateshead Technical College, post-graduate diploma in the conservation of easel paintings
1980 Appointed Assistant Conservation Officer, Southampton
City Art Gallery
1985 Appointed Conservation Officer, Southampton City Art
1990 Appointed Collections Manager, Southampton City Art
1991 Longleat Wessex Collection
1998 Postcards on Photography: Photorealism and the Reproduction exhibition, John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton
2002 Appointed Curator, Southampton City Art Gallery
2008 Appointed Lead Curator (Art), Arts and Heritage,
Southampton City Council
2009 Secret Places, solo exhibition, Bedford School
2011 Real/Surreal: Tree landscapes, Gallery LeFort, Bath