About The Artist


My name is Tim Backhouse. I was born under Leo in 1947 (the year of the Pig) in London, England.
For the next 7 years my parents moved around the country following my father's work. We lived in Blackburn, Newark and Hull before returning to the South to settle in Coulsdon, near Croydon where I lived until moving to college in Portsmouth in 1966, shortly after my first marriage. Apart from a brief sojourn in York I have remained in Portsmouth ever since.

Tim 1969At Portsmouth College of Technology/Polytechnic I studied for a degree in Civil Engineering which I attained in 1969. A post graduate year as President of the Student Union marked a dramatic change in the direction of my life. Up to that point I had paid little attention to politics or the society around me, but immersion in the Union changed that forever. At first I had no idea how I was to translate my new understanding into a career for which my qualifications were patently useless. After a troubled couple of years I took a temporary job at the Department of Social Security. Strangely I stayed there for 25 years.
My interest in graphic art began during my college years when I realised that engineering drawings often had a peculiar beauty all of their own, and, much to the consternation of my family started framing and hanging them as if they were indeed Art. Over the following years I started to adapt these drawings for use as murals within my own home and those of my more discerning friends. By this time though, they bore little resemblance to anything normally associated with Civil Engineering.
Tim 1980In the mid 70's, I saw an exhibition of Islamic Art at the British Museum and was instantly converted to a future that would lie in the study of these and other geometric patterns. At about the same time I revisited my fascination with the optical illusions of Escher and was introduced to the colour schematics of Vasarely. With these three elements in place I left behind the ephemerality of murals and by 1978 was painting almost exclusively on canvas and paper with a later excursion into screenprinting. This period was marked by the development of ideas in which I took the repetitive element of the patterns and showed how they could be used to portray representational as well as contemplative images.
Trips to Spain, Morocco and Egypt enhanced the love affair I had developed with Islamic Art. I encountered the Alhambra and the mosques of North Africa with an air of astonishment tempered with Tim 1983humility before such artefacts. I began to seek out books on the Qu'ran and embarked on a detailed analysis of their illuminations which drew me into a debate on the perception of Geometric design as 'Art'. Of relevance to this discussion was the principle of aniconism, which, put briefly, is the Islamic tradition that says religious artwork should not be representational on the grounds that this might encourage idolatry. I felt at ease with this attitude, though was concerned that it might also impinge on the latent 3-dimensionality of many designs which I felt were crucial to the development of typical Islamic architecture.
I've been fortunate in having several exhibitions of my work in the Portsmouth area over the past 20 years though I have sold only a few paintings. Since April 1998 when I Tim with daughter Morgan, 2001left full time employment, I have been concentrating on artwork using a computer. In particular I now manage Community Internet Services, creating web sites, often for Community groups and the Voluntary and Charitable sectors. I remain though, passionately involved with patterns and their origins.
As with many pattern-junkies I have a belief that number and regular shape describe the entire universe. From the arrangement of petals on a rose to the distribution of galaxies, a describable order exists - even if we have not yet discovered it all. As an artist I seek those patterns that inform our perception of natural phenomena.

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