City of Glasgow College student Tim Kirman is making art from teabags and memories.
“Doing things artistically was a way of keeping a routine.” In the face of coronavirus and restricted studio access, Tim Kirman has had little trouble staying productive while working from home. Their creative practice has “kept them sane” while finishing off their degree in Contemporary Art Practice at City of Glasgow College. Kirman commends the unwavering dedication of the college’s tutors, especially in light of the constraints of this last year.
Despite the lack of access to kilns and printing screens, making the shift from studio to home was an easy adjustment for Kirman. It gave more time to think, more time to “let things rattle around.” Our everyday activities were remade in the wake of the pandemic and Kirman was inspired to question the rituals and routines that had been part and parcel of their life before and after.
Tea is a repeated theme in Kirman’s work. It was, Kirman explains, a “punctuation mark” in those unchanging days of lockdown. In Documents of Daily Routine, they register each day with an ochre stain from the teabag of that morning’s brew. Assembled in a notebook, Kirman photographs the pages to create a tender yet disquieting stop-motion film – what seems a mundane everyday activity is suddenly animated. This fixture of everyday life is revisited to create a series of teabag sculptures. Weary teabags of all different types are stacked in brown, vertical columns. They are divided by shape and each is a monument to either round, square or rectangular bags.
It is common for Kirman to return to an image or object and re-work it into alternate forms, with this concept in particular existing simultaneously as readymade, photograph, animation, slip-cast and screen print. Kirman refers to a continual process of transformation and says of returning to artworks: “I don’t feel the stories have ended for me, I think there’s always something more I want from them.” That such a variety of materials have been used, Kirman notes, is in part because of the freedom to play that was allowed on the course.
Are Memories the Creative Plastic of Infinite Transformation? is also an experiment in form. It is composed of a series of second-hand, black and white family photographs, initially presented as artworks in themselves. The project evolves as Kirman takes the time to work back into them, layering them with painterly gestures or bordering each figure with strokes of colour. Afterwards, bodies are displaced entirely and superimposed onto an expanse of hot pink. Eventually they become soft sculptural versions of themselves and are photographed stood upright around Kirman’s own home in a strange coming together of the artist and their adopted kin.
These are colourful exercises in appropriation. Kirman also likes to use found photographs, purchasing them in thrift shops or online. They talk animatedly about buying and developing vintage film canisters for the pure surprise of seeing what strangers have captured. Kirman is sentimental about the long-forgotten individuals in these photos and notes that through their practice they can “keep them alive.”
The Appropriation of Memories involves the projection of this found imagery onto a tin of the original negatives in a delicate layering of the material and immaterial. In the collection, manipulation and display of these effects Kirman intends to give them new meanings or narratives, even if it’s just to insert their own subjectivity. As they say of these experiments, “I now feel part of that story.”
Facets of all of these works will be making an appearance at an upcoming degree show at City of Glasgow College where students are being provided with both a physical exhibition and a digital show. Many of these artworks have been produced at home, and after an academic year in limbo Kirman is more than enthusiastic about the prospect of exhibiting them.
Interview and feature by Kitty Bew.
Degree show: COGC Graduate Shows 2021 online exhibition launches 10 June 2021. cogcdegreeshows.co.uk/
1. Tim Kirman, Documents of daily routine, a collection, mixed media teabags and metal, 18cmx24cmx5cm, 2021.
2. Tim Kirman, Appropriation of Memories, digital image, 2020.
3. Tim Kirman, Memories are Plastic Home, installation, calico and household items, 150cmx60cmx60cm, 2021.