Excavator Barcelona Excavador1985-88
instantprint, b&w xerox, Canon Laser copies,
rubber stamps, bought objects, 44 page softback book. 28 x 20 cm

As with ‘Ground Zero Inc’, and ‘The Highstreet SW11’, Tilson collected materials from a specific urban environment, in this case the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona. Collage work prior to this had relied heavily upon found photographs, texts from magazines, brochures, books and other printed matter. With ‘Excavator’ Tilson changed tactics and created his own source material of photographs and texts. Appropriated text from a clandestine pro-terrorist publication on police detecting methods was rewritten as a narrative and then typeset. The photographs and text were further manipulated on photocopiers. Tilson was able to explore narrative themes and urban ambience across different media - a book - a diorama and collages - placing elements where they could be most effective and appropriate. Source material suggested an intimate scale for the works, echoing the claustrophobic streets of the Barrio Gotico. The developing narrative which used a fictional character, Mr Emerson, dealt with the traces of a murder, time travel, new geography and the archaeology of collage. The city seen as an archeological detective story

Tilson exploited an early Canon copiers's depth of focus for the cover. For the title page he made an "E" from earth which he glued to paper and photocopied. The Excavator lettering was adapted from a Catalan newspaper still printed by letterpress.
There are hints at a story; seven murders have taken place and an archaeologist, Mr Emerson, is on the trail of the killer....He plays with the idea of an archaeologist digging through time - but with his horizons focused on solving the murder mystery - setting beside this the juxtapositions of his collages and making references to bogus systems and series which paradoy scientific investigations. It’s an Alice in Wonderland logic, in which the gaps play a crucial part. The more facts we think we have, the less we actually discover..

Cathy Courtney - ART MONTHLY, 1986

Artist/Author, Contemporary Artists' Books, USA touring the American Federation of Arts.
Artists Books, the Tate Gallery, London.
Looking at Words Reading Pictures, London.
Artists Books, The Minories, Colchester.
Work & Turn, tour.
Contemporary British Artists Books, Scarborough.
Contemporary British Artists Books, Hardware Gallery.
British Artists Books, Arthur Anderson.
Bound Image, Milton Keynes, Spacex, Nigel Greenwood, Artsite.
20 Years of British Art from the Sackner Archive, BASS Museum, Miami, Florida.
British Artists Books, Center for the Book Arts, New York City.
New Artists Books, Galeri TV, Malmo, Sweden.
1986 British Art & Design, Vienna.
Artist as Publisher, Crafts Council, London.
Artists Books, University of Nevada, tour.

Undercover Magazine, Belgium.
El Misterio, Atlas 2, I-D, Nov.
Clever & Its Art, Sarah Howell, Observer magazine p50.
Excavator Barcelona Excavador, Jane Withers, The Face Nov.
Jake's Thing, Abigail Frost, Crafts no82, p28-29.
Excavator, Nick Kimberley, City Limits Oct 30.
Excavator, Sarah Kent, Time Out Nov 5.
Excavator, Michael McNay, Guardian Oct 29th, p28.
Excavator, Cathy Courtney, Art Monthly no101  p28.
Tickets for the Mystery Tour, Marina Warner, The Independent Dec. 30.
20 Years of British Art, Sackner Archive, Miami, Florida.
Royal Overseas League, London.
Copyart Biennale, Valencia.
Bound Image, tour UK.
British Artists Books, Center for Book Arts, New York City.
New Artists Books, Galerie TV , Malmo.

Artist as Publisher, Crafts Council, London.