The Bushfire Relief Auction: Brian Corr

“I continually seek a deeper understanding of the world in which we live and the nature of our experience within it…” Brian Corr

TIMSHEL by artist Brian Corr is one of the highlights of Leonard Joel’s forthcoming Bushfire Relief Auction. This extraordinary powerful sculpture, generously donated by the artist, is also imbued with a sense of stillness and reflection. We are delighted to share, and thank Lesley Kehoe and Brian Corr for this essay on the piece:


Cradled in the strength of architectural steel is a point of stillness, a point of meditative light and energy untouched by the thrusting progressive movement of the harsher material: ‘In this case, glass is a vehicle for light, which I equate to energy. With its volumes and voids holding or releasing light, it creates this composition within a composition. Steel is a means of constructing, of rising skyward, of forward and upward progress. So Timshel is a still point of light suspended, untouched, by this upward surge.’

One’s heart and soul expand and contract with the diverse messages of the work, but overall is a sense of the power of the human spirit. Corr’s work successfully resolves the dynamic tension, almost a contradiction, between the materials, presenting a vision of the opposing forces and struggles characteristic of the human condition.

A Hebrew word, ‘timshel’ has many subtle interpretations, but Corr’s inspiration comes from the renowned Steinbeck novel East of Eden. A contemporary exploration of the Old Testament parable of brothers Cain and Abel, Steinbeck has a Chinese servant, perplexed by the different translations of the word, investigate it with revered Confucian seers. The conclusion of these studies is that the word means ‘Thou Mayest’…not ‘thou shalt’ – achievement without effort; nor ‘Do…’ as an order of subservient obedience; but ‘thou mayest’ which embodies

freedom of choice: ‘And I feel that a man is a very important thing—maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’. (East of Eden)

For Corr, this work was also a choice: ‘I knew that making this work would be a massive undertaking and several colleagues told me it was too much, and I was a bit crazy to try, but I knew in my heart how important it was that I bring it to fruition. I encountered significant obstacles throughout, but upon seeing it come into being, I knew that Timshel was the only thing I could call it.’

Steinbeck suggests that ‘timshel’ is perhaps one of the most important words in the history of man. Virtue is immortal but evil has to be respawned, and therein lies the choice. We can see inertia – not taking a stand or giving up, as a manifestation of evil. Corr’s work is a reminder of the power of the human spirit, of perseverance in the face of difficulty and adversity, – a call to arms if you like for each of us to remember that there is always a choice.

Published: Lesley Kehoe Galleries
Authors: Lesley Kehoe, Brian Corr