Brian Tilbrook

The Artist's Impressions on Hurdles of Life 21' x 12'


When I first began planning this mural I entitled it ‘Ladders of Life’ but this seemed to suggest climbing to some sort of dizzy fulfilment, whereas ‘hurdles’ attempts to convey the sheer number of minor and major leaps, which our lives encompass. Each day, each major exam, each crucial decision – they are all in the mural somewhere.

The design sprawls almost untidily across the wall, but I did not want it to sit neatly or smugly and each panel is intended to be separate and yet part of the whole group. It projects from its white background as if it were a moulded part of the wall and, onto the different panels, aspects of life and learning and all the hurdles therein are strongly hinted at. Ultimately it is a design where you can see or imagine what you want rather than what prompted me as the artist.

Sometimes the rhythm is confused as if we often lack direction – or we head for a meaningless target which can lead nowhere. At the base is all the infant confusion of early years - not so much one route as in all directions. In the centre of the design is an entrance way in the shape of the World with small but significant door handles – the Chinese symbol of happiness. One lives in hope!

Across the mural the hurdles pile up higher and higher, but when overcome the pearl of wisdom and sense of achievement reward, if not always fairly, each person’s endeavours – with the Chinese symbols for happiness, love and prosperity in evidence, not forgetting the left hand-side of the mural where the crucial symbol for inner peace is clearly seen at rest and in calmness after the vast numbers of completed hurdles. Along the way is a panel which points out in a semi-abstract form how the individual sometimes needs to stand against the conformity of the crowds and to be alone amongst the many. There is also an abstract reference to the highs and lows we all experience in life, even the mind-fog we can exist in for ages as we try coping with our own ‘forty days in the wilderness’.

The mural is, in other words, able to be viewed at two levels. First as a cubist abstraction designed to galvanise a large blank wall. And secondly as a visualisation, however incomplete and hesitant, of all that we attempt to accomplish, our hopes, ambitions, successes – and failures, in surmounting the all too numerous hurdles of life.

Brian Tilbrook