A tribute to Tamara Krikorian 1944 – 2009
Tamara was a leading light in the visual arts world of Wales. Tamara was best known for her championing of artists’ practice whilst director of, first the Welsh Sculpture Trust and then Cywaith Cymru . Artworks Wales, the national organisation for public art in Wales. She was instrumental in the development of the careers of some of Wales’s most exciting and interesting artists, offering them the support to take risks and multiple platforms and fora to show their work that went far beyond the traditional model of a public art agency.
Trained as a musician, Tamara was a pioneer in the use of video as a means to make art, and is mentioned in the same breath as Yoko Ono, Derek Jarman and Sally Potter amongst many others, who created a context for contemporary artists such as Steve McQueen, Douglas Gordon and Gillian Wearing. The recognition of her seminal influence has only recently been truly acknowledged. Her campaigning led to this art form being legitimised, in the latter part of the 1970s.
Whilst living in Scotland, from the mid 60s to the late 70s, she met her partner, the artist Ivor Davies. She taught in Maidstone and Newcastle and co-founded London Video Arts, before settling in Wales, where her commitment to allowing artists to have a voice made her much beloved by those who worked with her.
Tamara Krikorian was born in 1944. She studied music and began making video in 1973 in Scotland where her campaigning helped establish the artform through a series of influential exhibitions. A founder of the artist led distribution agency London Video Arts in 1976, she was also an influential teacher at Maidstone and Newcastle. She lives in Wales, where she runs Art Work Wales. Krikorian was an influential artist during the 70’s and one of the first female artists in the UK to work with video. She made a number of key works in particular ‘Vanitas’, and ‘Breeze’. Krikorian also instigated collaborative shows of artists work; video conferences and various art forums, and importantly published a number of texts.
“Tamara Krikorian was a founding member of LVA, and instigated collaborative shows of artists’ work including the first exhibition of video in Scotland, ‘Video Towards Defining an Aesthetic’, at the Third Eye, Glasgow in 1976. She also organised conferences and art forums, and wrote a number of key texts during the early period. Krikorian’s work was complex in its layering of meanings, and lyrical, often exploring the blurred edges between representation and the real; the static and the moving, and her ambient electronic installations explored technological landscapes as well as the recorded images of landscape.” – J.Hatfield
Interview of Tamara Krikorian
View the interview transcript here
Scottish Arts Council, Charlotte Square Gallery, Edinburgh.
Serpentine Gallery, London, ‘The Video Show’
Tate Gallery, London, ‘The Video Show’
Third Eye Gallery, Glasgow, ‘Video Towards Defining an Aesthetic’
Biddick Farm Arts Centre, Washington, Tyne & Wear
Galeria Cavallino, Venice ‘British Artists Video’
Bon a Tirer Gallery, Milan
Bonnenfanten Museum, Maastricht, Holland, ‘International Video Manifestation’
Museum of Modern Art, Paris, ‘Tenth Paris Biennale’
Brighton Open Studios
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry,
‘Video Art 78’ The Kitchen, New York ‘Video Tape by British Artists’
Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, ‘An Ephemeral Art’.
Scottish Arts Council, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, ‘Eye to Eye’ – video installations.
Acme Gallery, London
The First Decade, Rome, ‘Video 79’
International Video Symposium, Kingston, Canada
ACE, Video Artists on Tour
Teatr Studeo, Warsaw
‘De Appel’, Amsterdam
South Park Arts Centre, Bracknell
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, ‘The Heart of the Illusion – video installations.
Arnolfini Arts Centre, Bristol
‘Film and Video’ The Tate Gallery, London – ‘Single Screen’
Air Gallery, London, ‘The Heart of the Illusion’ – video installations.
‘British Council Tour of Independent Film and Video’, Japan Midland Group, Nottingham, Video Selection of Sense and Sensibility
Air Gallery, ‘Video Installation Show’
B2 Gallery, London, ‘Landscape in Film and Video’
‘Frauen Kultur des Uferlose Weg’, Cologne
‘Video Art: A History – Documentation Exhibition’, Museum of Modern Art, New York
‘Angels of Fire’, Poetry Festival, Cockpit Theatre, London
Festival Internationale Studio Visual d’Europe, Bergamo, Itaty
The New Pluralism/British Film and Video
The Tate Gallery, London
‘Ten Years of British Video Art’, Channel 6, ICA
The Elusive Sign, ‘British Avant Garde Filme and Video’
British Council Tour. First shown at the Tate Gallery
‘Genlock’ a travelling Video exhibition presented by London Video Arts and Interim Arts
The Museum of Moving Image
‘Signs of the Times’, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
‘Video Positive’, The Tate Gallery/Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool
Sweetie, Female Identity in British Video. The British School in Rome
Rewind: The Formative years, Artists’ Video in the 70s and 80s, VRC, Dundee Contemporary Arts
Analogue: Pioneering Video from the UK, Canada and Poland, Tate Britain and Tour
1976 Disintegrating forms
1977 In the Minds Eye
1977 Unassembled Information
1978-79 Vanitas (Or an Illusion of Reality)
1979 An Ephemeral Art
1980 Heart of the Illusion
1982 Time Revealing Truth
1983 The Question Is… Is this Art? Is this Entertainment?
1984 Extracts from the Work
‘An Ephemeral Art’: Leaflet for the exhibition ‘Eye to Eye: Two installations by Tamara Krikorian’, The Frutmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 20 October – 17 November 1979. Includes works ‘Vanitas’ and ‘Tableau’.
‘An Ephemeral Art’: Leaflet advertising ‘The heart of the illusion: Landscape, still life and self-portrait. Tamara Krikorian Installation for three video monitors and mirrors’. IKON gallery, 7 – 28 March 1981.Includes information on ‘An ephemeral art’
Quotes:"Video Artist Tamara Krikorian, herself part of the founding modernist LVA group in London, identified and summarised her own involvement with the emergence of this tendency in a catalogue essay published in 1979: 'My own interest in video, and indeed in television, stems form a formalist position, a formal analysis/decoding/construction of the medium, but it's not posible to consider television without taking into account its structure, not just in terms of technology but also in terms of politics. This led me to realise that the reference points in working with any medium must come not only from the medium itself, following the modernist approach of 'pure art', but from relationships between types of work, painting and sculpture and video etc. The reference must also come from the artist's own experince as mediator between what has gone before and the raw material and the ideal, constantly restating and confronting the spectator with a discussion between the old and the new". Tamara Krikorian (1979) 'Some notes on an Ephemeral Art', Exhibition Catalogue, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, Quoted in Marshall (1986), p.17. Chris Meigh-Andrews, A History of Video Art. Berg, 2006.