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Bird Of Prey by Tadek Beutlich


The purchase in 1974 of an imagistic wall-hanging by a Polish-born artist might seem idiosyncratic, but Beutlich had been showing wall-hangings and woodcuts regularly at the Grabowski Gallery in London since 1963 and was actually an art and craft educationalist of some stature who had been teaching at Camberwell. Thus this purchase reflects an educational outlook concerned with exploring the possible contemporary relationship between craft and art, function, process and image.
Instead of either replicating a pictorial image or focusing on utility, the weaver did better, in Beutlich's eyes, to start from the quality and texture of the material used. That is, he should not try to replicate qualities designed in paint. The power-loom had taken over utility weaving and had left the artist-weaver to focus upon producing significant individual aesthetic objects.
In Beutlich's case, the wall-hanging becomes richly varied in pattern and density, creating its own visual richness out of the elemental plaiting. Long plaits are held vertically at regular distances and given terminal loops or else the sisal dangles like long hair. A hauntingly beautiful yet fearful mythic image is evoked. The viewer senses perhaps an unsettling power emanating from the sometimes visceral, sometimes erotic associations of the sisal forms. At the same time, its head-piece and central body-area seem to invite one to wear it as costume in some atavistic ritual, and thus in some sense to internalise the power which such an identification would inspire.
Artist:Tadek Beutlich
Artwork type:relief wallhanging
Material:sisal
Measurements:2032 x 3556 mm
Technique:twisted and plaited on structure
Date:1972
Rights owner:Tadek Beutlich
Rights status:UK HE use only
Institution:Council for National Academic Awards

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