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Labyrinth ‘Caerdroia' Labyrinth ‘Caerdroia' Labyrinth ‘Caerdroia' Labyrinth ‘Caerdroia' Labyrinth ‘Caerdroia' Labyrinth ‘Caerdroia'

Labyrinth ‘Caerdroia'

Item Code: JQT-caerdroia-sv
Wood construction with oil paint.
Date of Work
Signed verso
Height (cm)
Width (cm)
Base price $59,324
Signed verso, oil on Elm wood.

Measuring almost 7 ft high, this is a major Tilson original, with provenance from Marlborough and exhibited at the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Joe Tilson, November 1973 - January 1974, no. 87. Branded verso 'TILSON'.

In the early 1970s, Joe Tilson left the urban environment of London for the stillness of Wiltshire. At the same time, he turned his artistic attention to the construction of large wooden Cretan labyrinths, of which this is one of the earliest examples. A trained carpenter, Tilson was also fascinated by the symbolism of ancient cultures, especially the Ancient Greeks. In the labyrinth, he found both a rich conflation of mythological resonances and a vigorous formal design.

Caerdroia is the Welsh word for Troy, which by a linguistic parallel – ‘troeau’ translates as ‘bends’ – was known as the ‘Castle of Turns’. Historically, Welsh shepherds were said to have created their own ‘caerdroia’, sevenfold mazes that were associated with sacred dances and ceremonial feasts. Tilson’s maze mimics these medieval turf versions, whose paths were delineated by raised earth rather than surrounded on either side by walls. The effect, along with Tilson’s painted arrows that lead the eye from centre to entrance, is to reiterate the paradox at the heart of the labyrinth, to which, as Michael Compton describes, there is a single, inevitable solution: ‘To follow the maze is always to arrive at the end which is already in view, but to take a rhythmically wandering path. It is a ritual picture of a journey or pilgrimage.’
Joe Tilson PortraitJoe Tilson was born in 1928 in London. He initially began work as a carpenter and cabinetmaker before joining the Royal Air Force until 1949. He then studied at St. Martin’s School of Art and at the Royal College of Art, London where he received the Rome Prize – an award which sent him to Italy for a year in 1955.

A particular motif Tilson returned to again and again throughout the 60s was that of grids, both as a formal device and a symbolic way of relating objects to one another. The resulting squares were often set apart from each other by their vibrant colours and the imagery they contained. Tilson is a Royal Academician and his artistic career was celebrated at the Royal Academy in a retrospective exhibition in 2002.
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