The Holcombe Tarot (c.1971 – 1975) uses the fiction of a Tarot pack made by a fictional British artist to explore ideas of meaning and randomness in a series of 78 collages that occasionally overlap traditional Tarot symbolism, but mostly aim to remain ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations.Made originally as a series of collages, all around 8x10" in size and in portrait format, the series has now been made into a working prototype Tarot pack, a version of which can be seen being used in the video. The reverse side marbling is a representation of the cells of the pituitary gland (aka the 'Third Eye') while the 78 card designs are all original, and only occasionally overlap traditional Tarot symbolism. In a letter to Cy Albertine written in 1975, the fictional Holcombe explained his intentions as follows:
“The Tarot has always intrigued me, not because I believe it has any supernatural, occult or divinatory properties, but for precisely the opposite reason: that its symbols are empty, ambiguous and contradictory, and in being so seem to absorb whatever meanings or interpretations we wish to project into their random alignments. In this, they have something of the same quality found in art works that transcend the time and context of their making – not because they contain anything innately transcendent but because they remain ambiguous and open to interpretation for all times and potential viewers. Perhaps my own Tarot series is an exercise in this kind of randomness. The cards it contains mean nothing, in themselves, and any reading of their faces is as valid as any other, beyond a few very rudimentary cues and prompts. Yet in meaning nothing they may also be open to the kind of interpretation that will seem to signify psychological and personal insight…”
The prototype packs are digitally printed from original designs to a high quality by a specialist playing card manufacturing company and this Kickstarter is essentially aiming to gather enough advance orders for the packs to make them economically viable: I have calculated that 100 packs is the absolute minimum number I need in order to supply the finished sets at the price offered here, so the target total has been set to the cost of this minimum number of orders, inclusive of shipping to backers within the UK, and this initial limited run will not exceed 100 individually signed and numbered packs. A few of the sample card designs are pictured below, but template versions for all 78 designs are available on the links above and below. Thank you for your interest, and I hope you'll enjoy the cards!
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Robert Holcombe is an entirely fictional British artist (b. Leeds 1923 – d. Exeter 2003) created by Wayne Burrows around 2010. The back-story to this fictional character is that Robert Holcombe's fascination with collage was first discovered when he began cutting up magazines and rearranging the parts whilst convalescing from injuries sustained in 1944, during active service in Malaya. He was a radio engineer, a contemporary of Richard Hamilton at the Slade School of Art between 1948 and 1951 and, from 1955 until 1988, a planning officer in the city of Leeds. His early, if oblique, involvement with the Independent Group continued into the 1980s, and he maintained a long correspondence with Eduardo Paolozzi, whose interest in elaborate fictions and alternate realities he shared. Although Holcombe did not exhibit publicly during his lifetime, he made most of his work under two pseudonyms – Gene and Michael Harrison. It’s also notable that many of his images, particularly those featuring material rooted in fashion, advertising and technology, show a more ambiguous enthusiasm for the world of the Post-War era than was generally usual at the time. His works are marked by a fascination with consumerist excesses, inscrutable apparitions of surgical, sexual and folkloric symbols inside modernist interiors, and unsettling disturbances of ordinary space. Holcombe has, to date, featured in many group shows, and two fictional retrospective exhibitions have been staged: Folklore Ritual & The Modern Interior (1955 – 1975) at Xero Kline & Coma, London, and The Family Bible & Other Fables: Works From The Holcombe Collection (1948 – 1978) at Syson Gallery, Nottingham.
Risks and challenges
The prototype and proof packs produced by my supplier during the development process have all been delivered quickly and to a high standard, so I have every confidence that the larger order that will be placed if this Kickstarter reaches its target will also be delivered both on time and to the required standard. Given that the Kickstarter and production process combined will make delivery in time for xmas very tight, though just about possible, please note that due to issues with mail generally at this time of year I can aim to get rewards mailed to backers between 13 - 18 December 2014, but can't guarantee that they will arrive before the 25th. I will certainly be doing my best to get all rewards on their way as early as the production process allows, but do please bear this in mind if you are planning to give packs or rewards as gifts!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)