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Tim White: Masters of Sci-Fi Fantasy Art (Volume 1)

Introducing a new ASTRAL series exploring science fiction fantasy art in which will be covering the great artists in this genre and the infinite worlds they created from within.

Imagination is more important than knowledge (Albert Einstein)

Following on from the psychedelic and spiritual revolution of the 1960's, the birth of modern science fiction fantasy art symbolised a transformation in human consciousness. This was an era defined in the west by the human pursuit of space travel with the Apollo 11 moon landings in 1969 at the forefront, and the artists of this generation were responding to the feeling throughout culture that humans had entered a new technological age. Space travel had popular culture in a frenzy and in the 3 years leading up to the moon landings, the first season of Star Trek (1966) was released, followed by 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), inspiring a whole generation of kids growing up to dream of visiting exoplanets and being an astronaut.

Humans have always used fantasy in order to imagine our potential, and since the dawn of time we have conjured up mystical beings from our mind immortalised in drawings on cave walls. In the same way that early science fiction movies such as A Trip To The Moon (1902) & Metropolis (1927) inspired NASA scientists and visions of future life on earth, sci-fi fantasy art from the latter half of the 20th most certainly played a role in shaping our collective dreams of an interstellar civilisation in the now not so distant future.

Artists who dreamed of traveling space as children found another way to explore the final frontier as they grew up, by looking inwards and transforming their visions onto canvasses, envisioning alien landscapes and mystical beings, ethereal and futuristic, derived from a new relation to the universe and its limitless nature that the technological age had inspired.

When you sprinkle in the remnants of the surrealist movement from earlier that century also weaving it's inspiration, you have a magical recipe. What resulted is a collection of pieces that immediately transform the mind of the viewer into another dimension, a glimpse of infinity, a journey into the depths of the human imagination fantasised in the minds of great artists.

Foundation and Earth - Tim White (1987)

Largely forgotten by mainstream culture, these great works became known only to the niche audience of die hard science fiction fantasy fans as artists within this realm were often associated with cover artwork for novels, comic books and album covers for psych bands. Here we pay homage to a legacy of artworks', and masters of the sci-fi fantasy art era.

Many of the paintings used oil, acrylic and watercolor. The spray gun (airbrush) technique was largely popular within this genre in order to achieve more subtle shades, whilst still implementing traditional brush stroke.

One Million Tomorrows - Tim White (1986)

Accompanying the following artworks in Volume 1 is a series of quotes from a short essay written in CHIAROSCURO (1988) by the late great British fantasy artist Tim White, on the importance of nurturing the imagination. Tim White sadly passed away on April 6th 2020. His artwork inspired generations of curious minds and he will be remembered as one of the greats of this genre. For this reason we have chosen to dedicate Volume 1 to:

Tim White (1952 - 2020)

Imagination is our pathway to change. Without the ability to imagine we would be trapped - trapped in what we term reality. But then our reality, the environment we live in, is actually the end-product of imagination...

Foundation - Tim White (1982)
Foundation And Empire - Tim White (1984)
Second Foundation - Tim White (1983)
...From the raw materials that nature has provided, mankind has been busy exploring the possibilities. Much of what assaults our five senses was once a figment of somebody else's imagination. All the major innovations, those things we now take for granted and which affect every facet of our daily lives, were once contained in the simple thought, What if...?

Crystal Empire - Tim White (1988)
...And that thought went on to fire the imaginations of countless others, pushing the boundaries of knowledge forever further. Electricity was first noticed by the Greeks thousands of years ago, but it wasn't until the eighteenth century that Benjamin Franklin and his peers discovered how to control it and make it do useful work. The world shaped by this discovery is probably beyond even their wildest imaginings and the changes it has made will continue to influence the world of tomorrow...

Prelude To Foundation - Tim White (1988)
...Like many future moulding discoveries, it has the potential for good and for evil. The same power that keeps a premature baby alive in an incubator could also provide the spark to launch a nuclear war head. The germ of an idea can continue both the salvation and the destruction of the human race. It is an awesome thought that the future exists here and now in our imagination...

Dragon Dance - Tim White (Unknown)
...Collectively and individually we all have the ability to affect the status quo. The last century or so has seen some astounding developments in technology, but they are not without their price. The road ahead is fraught with danger, most of which, ironically is of our own making. We can't un-invent nuclear weapons. We must learn to live with the reality we have created...

Roderick At Random - Tim White (1983)
...Whether we continue to advance at the same rate, whether we solve the problems that afflict mankind, or whether we wipe ourselves from the face of the earth, everything is a matter for conjecture. The possible futures are myriad: from holocaust to Utopia and all the permutations in between, presumed and unexpected. However true it may be that we can all influence what tomorrow may bring, there is a vast difference between acknowledging the theory and confronting the practicalities of living in a rapidly changing environment, knowing that the next step forward might be into oblivion...

Dayworld - Tim White (1986)
...Consequently, it is easy to understand why a growing number of people feel they are no longer in control of their lives. There is a yearning to return to a more natural order of things. We no longer have the same fears that beset our ancestors. Technology has removed a lot of the mystique that once surrounded the natural cycle of life. Advances in medical science have radically altered the pattern from birth to death. Traditional remedies handed down from generation to generation suddenly became obsolete. But modern medicine doesn't hold all the answers...

Crystal Empire - Tim White (1988)
...There are still diseases that remain incurable and those unfortunate enough to be terminally afflicted often find their suffering heightened by a taboo of silence. Their plight is an uncomfortable reminder of our own mortality. The supportive network of the extended family, the community spirit that bound our ancestors together in their daily struggle to survive, no longer exists for most individuals. Frequently the only recourse for chronic sufferers is alternative medicine, and many of the methods practiced in this area are rooted firmly in folklore...

Neuromancer - Tim White (1986)
Such sufferers are by no means alone in searching for another way. Machines cannot cater for all our needs, nor can they solve all our problems. It is understandable then, that the frenetic pace of technological breakthroughs should be paralleled by an increasing interest in a more holistic approach to life. Maybe it is true, that by looking too precisely towards the future and the way that technology can best serve us, we are in danger of developing tunnel vision...

Foundations Edge - Tim White (1986)
Perhaps we have become isolated, imprisoned by our own creations, out of step with the harmony that exists in nature. Maybe the trappings of sophistication have made us too cynical to see what our ancestors knew. They dealt with their environment in ways that have receded into folklore, impinging on our modern mainly in the guise of myths and legends, fairy stories to entertain our children...

Makeshift God - Tim White (1979)
When an understanding of nature in all her diverse forms could mean the difference between life and death, it is hardly surprising that our ancestors invested these natural phenomena with magical qualities. Belief in such things as elemental, or nature spirits, go way back beyond any of our present religious doctrines...

UFO UK - Tim White (1980)
Taken a stage further, it can be hypothesised that we have done more than simply alienate ourselves from our intrinsic relationship with nature; we have actually lost our ability to perceive it, just as the person who overloads his palate with strong liquor can no longer appreciate more subtle, delicate flavours. Perhaps we are now blind to what we could once see. Long before art and literature formulated our present concept of 'fairy land', there was a strongly held tradition acknowledged the existence of another world inhabited by magical beings who sometimes middle in the affairs of men...

Garden At The Edge Of Forever - Tim White (1994)
It is not an uncommon occurrence for small children to have invisible companions. Many an indulgent parent has been forced to leave a vacant seat on a bus or perform similar concessions to accommodate these unseen friends. The reality of the experience to the child has often been put down to an over vivid imagination, buy may in fact be a manifestation of the sixth sense. Our senses are receivers tuned to this reality...

Assignment In Eternity - Tim White (1977)
...It is possible that children are able to perceive these inhabitants of another world or dimension simply because their senses are less finely tuned, but they cut themselves off from these other realities as they get older and more cynical. The future potential of this phenomenon has not been lost. Scientists all over the world are active in the field of psychic research. Ironically they're doing so with the equipment technology has provided...

Assignment In Eternity - Tim White (1977)
...In a way, imagination has brought us full circle. Imagination, however, is not solely a catalyst for the future. The same facility that created our present reality also allows us to escape from it. In fact, the ability to fantasise seems to be one of mans most fundamental needs. Dreams release us from the strait-jacket of day to day existence...

Space City Complex - Tim White (1978)
...Imagination and fantasy are inextricably linked. The furthest parameters of the eternal question, What If...? are explored within the genre of imaginative fiction and fantasy art. Here our imaginations can safely be given free rein and a certain tangibility...



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