Tessa Garland

Tessa Garland

Tessa Garland is a London based artist who makes experimental films and moving image installations that explore ideas about public and private space, surveillance and voyeurism.

Tessa Garland has exhibited widely and shown work in events, screenings and exhibitions in the UK and internationally including the Photographers Gallery, London; ICA; Whitechapel Art Gallery; The Wellcome Trust; Turner Contempoary, Margate; Dias Digital Art Space, Denmark; Queens Museum of Art, New York; the MACVAL Contemporary Art Museum, Paris; The Australian Centre for Moving Image, Melbourne and Anthology Film Archives in New York. She is Curator for the International moving image and performance exhibition, Visions in the Nunnery, (2006- present) the Nunnery Gallery, London. Tessa Garland has been in receipt of numerous arts awards both to support her own practice and to organise ambitious arts events and exhibitions across the UK. In 2019 she has been awarded British Council Travel Grant Fund, to travel to represent her work at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Michigan and most recently was awarded Arts Council funding for the International exhibition Visions in the Nunnery, Nunnery Gallery, London 2020.

East Village

HD Video / 10:00 min / 2020

A drone inhabited by the mind of a property developer arrives ‘top down’ from above and flies through the newly built residential neighbourhood in East London and gathers data at twilight.
During the journey it maps the new utopian space it has built with its mechanical gaze, commenting and interacting with its findings, ‘We want to contain and retain our residents’. This is a place built in a bubble, controlled within the walls of developer’s billboards. Privately owned, East Village is awash with branding and reaffirming smiling faces. Purchase a luxury flat and buy into the services, life style and more. As the drone declares ‘Everything you need is here!’ With Westfield shopping mall on your doorstep, its ever present logo glowing like a beacon of hope, why would you ever want to leave?


HD Video / 03:06 min / 2020

‘glimpsey’ is a sequence of observational video shots, taken through windows in new residential areas in East London. Contained within the seemingly private space of their own apartments, I have recorded people performing domestic actions that are not remarkable, nor individual but similar and universal. They remain the only source of life framed in these architectural environments. The smallest of gestures are synchronised to simple sounds. The confluence of image and sound aims to dislocate the work from its original context, and dismantle it from the observational ‘here and now’ into a place that is more abstract, and focuses our attention on the formal qualities of composition and rhythm.

Legacy Wharf

HD Video / 09:30 min / 2020

‘Legacy Wharf’ is part of an ongoing series of work made in response to urban regeneration and the growing number of top down, generic, housing developments appearing across the London skyline. The work was filmed in a new residential district in East London, near City Airport. The sequence of shots investigates a space in transition, part built with some residents having already moved in and part under construction. This is a place designed and built by developers that sells lifestyle with a feel good factor. Billboards displaying architect’s images reinforce a sense of community, connectivity and destination. Balconies present aspirational spaces to watch aeroplanes take off and land.

The work is set at twilight, a time of ‘in-between-ness’ when the light has the power to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. An aeroplane takes off into a large pink illuminated sky that promises optimism, but as the sun slips the film segues into the recessed interiors of apartments. Windows light up generating an unshielded natural surveillance into the everyday worlds of strangers. Few windows have blinds or curtains, revealing stark and sparsely furnished homes. The camera observes these unremarkable scenes. Liminal instances that have been cropped and framed- solitary people absorbed by screens, washing hanging up to dry, a man pointing to a wall whilst above him a towering crane appears to make him small, almost miniature.

Branding and marketing is common place in the development. Two very different billboard images are used at the beginning and end of the video. At the start, a fantastical golden sunset showing the sweep of the Thames basin lined with gleaming apartments and at the end a cropped image of an isolated eye, part obscured. Between these images spins paradoxes that play on speculation and reflection. The reality of the billboard image is questioned through the films unfolding of its artifice.

Set to a soundtrack by Nick Harpley the confluence of image and sound aims to dislocate the work from its original context, and dismantle it from the observational ‘here and now’ into a place that is uneasy and other worldly.