Tim Goulding: singing with colour
The Beara painter and musician's latest series of artworks explores a lifelong relationship with music; Tripe + Drisheen gets a tour of his new exhibition.
Don’t forget to click play above to hear the podcast interview, as Tim Goulding muses on everything from being a reformed workaholic, to stints in “advanced nocturnal furniture removal” with psychedelic folk band Dr Strangely Strange, to why creativity is like diarrhoea, to the time he decided taking acid every second day for two weeks would bring him closer to reality….
Music and synaesthesia
Despite Tim Goulding’s frequent assertion that he is better at painting than he is at making music, he has spent the past four years intricately interweaving his long-standing relationships with both strands of his life’s work.
The result is Music, a series of 42 abstract paintings, 23 of which are on display in his current exhibition.
Goulding says his aim with the series was to delve more deeply into colour than he has before: in the interview above, you’ll hear him describe some colours as backing singers and others as soloists, while fluid geometric grids represent the staves of sheet music.
Synaesthesia is a neurological condition where individuals’ senses are blended; some synaesthetes taste colour, for example, or see particular shapes when they smell certain odours, or see colours when they hear certain words.
Synaesthesia in some form affects as many as 4.4% of adults, and has long been linked to creativity.
There seems a synaesthetic intent to Goulding’s latest series: it feels as though he’s asking the viewer to experiment with the boundaries of their perception of different senses.
From a ceaselessly experimental artist who has moved through a staggering variety of phases in everything from pointilism to straight landscape painting to increasing abstraction in later years, an invitation to others to experiment should probably come as no surprise.
Goulding moved to Allihies on the Beara Peninsula from what he calls the “Dublin Art Ghetto” in 1968, and has been based there ever since.
He grew up in Wicklow, the son of two influential figures in Irish society: his father was Sir Basil Goulding, a businessman who was an important patron of the arts in Ireland, being involved in the formation of the Arts Council and Kilkenny Design Centre amongst others, and disability activist, senator and founder of the Central Remedial Clinic Valerie Goulding.
During the late sixties, Goulding played harmonium, whistle and eventually keyboards with Dublin psychedelic folk trio Dr Strangely Strange, whose other members at the time were founders Tim Booth and Ivan Pawle.
The band lived and rehearsed in a house nicknamed "The Orphanage," which became the centre of an important scene, helping launch the careers of musicians including Phil Lynott and Gary Moore.
Dr Strangely Strange have released four albums together over the course of their sporadic 50-year career: Their first LP, Kip of the Serenes, was released in 1969 after they signed to the Incredible String Band's producer and manager, Joe Boyd.
In late 2022, the band will release an album of radio sessions, including their one and only John Peel session.
Goulding retreated from Strangely Strange to focus on his painting more intensively from about 1972 onwards, inspired by the rugged beauty of the landscape at his adopted home in Beara, declaring that he was much better at painting than music and had only ever been a “part-time musician.”
A comprehensive overview of his prolific and varied work as a painter ever since can be found on his website.
Now 77, Goulding doesn’t know what the next series of works after Music will entail; “Ideally it would be great to paint silence, and to paint space,” he says with a smile. “But I don’t know if I’ll get to that.”
After recording the audio interview that can be played above, Goulding forwards the words he read at the Music exhibition opening:
I wanted to sing with colour, using really vibrant colour for the first time. These paintings call out for happiness and joy. I would like them to be of good cheer. Although painted over the last four years they are particularly relevant now! Tender times.
If you don’t drown with the drowned, you can sing with colour
It is never wrong to dance or sing
You might find peace in the time of war
You might find compassion in the time of war
Even wisdom in the time of war
Not precluding action in the time of war
But above all, surrender to humanity and the universe in the time of war.
Music by Tim Goulding runs until April 2 in the Lavit Gallery, Wandesford Quay. An artist’s talk will take place on Saturday, March 19 at 2.30pm. Information on the gallery website.