An emerging theme in work to be included in Tom’s March – April 2015 exhibition at Bodmin Shire Hall was that of landmark trees, those sentinels that punctuate the hillsides here in the Vale of Lanherne or that stand tall among a crowd of others in the woods. One of these is Oak Tree Above the Valley ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/oak-tree-valley/ ) in which the blond fresh leaf growth sings out against a lowering sky, ’emblematic perhaps of the persistent optimism that others point out about me,’ Tom reflected.
It’s hardly surprising that some common themes were to emerge as Tom worked on his collection Through Trees to the Sea for his exhibition at The Camel Valley Gallery in Wadebridge, Cornwall in October 2014. There had been an Entrance to a Lane in a canvas made early in the year and a way into the community in the Dusky St Columb painting made shortly afterwards. Now the way through the trees becomes a hollow lane that seems to tunnel its way through the darkness in his latest charcoal drawing. This piece entitled Woodland walk 3, hollow lane ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/woodland-walk-3-hollow-lane-print/ ) develops the series of drawings that were to accompany the collection of paintings that he put together for the Camel Valley Gallery exhibition in the autumn.
These new drawings were successors to previous charcoal sequences ( see https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product-category/drawings-and-prints-of-drawings/ ) that accompanied other collections. As demanding or more so than creating a painting, the charcoal drawing process requires that everything be communicated by the way this partly burnt wooden twig behaves; smudging the pristine whiteness of the paper, building layer on layer of tone, lending itself to bold gestures and making erased passages take on a positive mark quality of their own. Much has to be achieved with such simple means.
Tom and Gabrielle’s move to St Columb meant for Tom finding a lot of fresh inspiration for his paintings and drawings. Now he could at last begin to follow up on this in the space of their purpose built studio. The wooded Vale of Lanherne had already enabled Tom to begin getting to know the huge potential that trees held for him – a theme with an immense range of expressive possibilities. The town itself intrigues him as well, with its hilltop location and fascinating variety of buildings. Tom was also excited about the possibilities of Castle-an-Dinas as a central location within Cornwall from which a huge variety of vistas could be explored, towards the coast, towards the moors, the clay country and so-on.