‘Barra suite 5’ by Dr. Tim Threlfall
Next to the ‘Mother and Children’ sculpture outside The Herbert Gallery is the sculpture ‘ Barra suite 5’ by Dr. Tim Threlfall (he was Gary Galpin’s tutor). The Barra Suite sculptures are based on the bones of whales washed ashore on the Hebridian Island of Barra.
Tim Threlfall lectured in Fine Art at Coventry University from 1972 to 1991. He was born in 1940 and did his Ph.D. on Mondrian. His career in the arts spanned the period of 1964 – 1999 and during this period his work was collected and shown both nationally and internationally.
At the start of his career, he worked as an assistant to Henry Moore, John Hoskin and Bryan Kneale. Later he could count artists such as Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida, Elizabeth Frink and the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi as personal friends. He went on to write a book about the work and career of Noguchi, with whom he shared a deep reverence for landscape and nature.
His early sculptures were strips of metal, welded together at different angles that made the structure look like it was about to fall over. In 1970 Tim travelled over 8,000 miles around America. He was impressed by the vast open spaces he experienced in the Red Dessert of Wyoming; this had a big influence on his artistic life.
Tim Threlfall did his Phd on Piet Mondrian
Eduardo Chillida was an early influence on Tim Threlfall’s work.
The sculptor Isamu Noguchi was a close friend about whom he wrote a book.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Threlfall did various series or suites of themed sculptures. He liked instability with vertical stone slabs, and columns, composed of toppling stone cubes. Then he went on to do his series of fossil-like sculptures, very much inspired by Noguchi.
Works by Tim Threlfall at the Herbert Gallery: ‘Bronze-Stone Piece’, ‘Seated Presence’, ‘Sisters and Brothers’, ‘Untitled [wedgelike]’, ‘Unit Volume 2’, ‘Untitled (low bronze-stone piece)’, ‘Untitled (brass and stone tilting piece), ‘Untitled (brass and stone tilting piece)’, ‘Untitled [wooden long piece]’, ‘Untitled [wooden long piece]’, ‘Barra Suite 7 [‘bone’]’.
Tim Threlfall was very keen for his students to be part of the community and exhibit their artwork, especially demonstrating connections between sculpture and landscape. He was a good friend of Margaret Rylett, the Coventry City Archaeologist, and he got his student to make an arch with carved figures on for growing grapes in the Charterhouse Priory gardens.
Dr. Tim Trelfall always wanted to promote his students’ work and he saw a golden opportunity when the City Council had a competition as part of ‘Industry Year 1986’. A number of his student works were displayed around the city. However it didn’t work out as he hoped: it was a one off event rather than an annual competition and the prize money was completely inadequate. He did organise exhibitions of his student’s artworks in different places, other than just in the Art College. He was able, with Margeret Rylett’s help, to have exhibitions at the Whitefriars Monastery, including his own one-man show in 1987.
Tim died in 1999 aged 59. The Herbert Art Gallery holds a number of his sculptures in its permanent collection, as well as sketches and drawings. In 2003, the gallery held a retrospective of Tim’s work which celebrated his life and achievements.
Other Sculptures by Dr Tim Threlfall.