Mackeral sky over Lands End typified one of the cloud types that Tom found most inspiring, no doubt because of the possibilities of visual rhythm and pattern that such skies afford. Cirrocumulus Stratiformis, to give it the correct Latin term, forms “when moist air at high … altitude reaches saturation, creating ice crystals.” (Wikipedia) About this drawing Tom wrote: ‘What is so wonderful for a landscape artist is that with such conditions one can bring out as much visual interest in the sky as on the land or sea beneath, something I relished in working on this charcoal.’ drawing.
“The heart of Cornwall is not a place” a friend told Tom when he was planning his Heart of Cornwall Paintings collection for the Bodmin Shire Hall exhibition in March 2015. Even though he’d moved to a central location in the Duchy eighteen months previously he found himself agreeing with his statement. The show then became Tom’s pursuit of an in depth view of the heart of Cornwall. An aspect that he knew had to be celebrated was Cornwall’s industrial heartland.
A bright winter morning walk up Carn Brea hill provided all the inspiration Tom needed to help him see this industrial heritage as an ongoing and living part of our culture and to aim to express that in a painting. The characteristic engine house and winding gear that he could see from there were not features of romantic ruin like so many that appear in Cornish landscapes but in working order, surrounded by other industrial installations and power lines. He could see that Cornwall’s industrial heart, a cleaner, healthier heart than existed in the past, was beating still.
“‘Over the mountains, a distant journey hence, / happiness resides,’ the people say.” * Where is happiness? Can we become happy? Our lives, and indeed the entire history of the human race, can be described in a certain sense as a ceaseless journey in search of the cherished goal of happiness.”
Thus Tom’s Buddhist mentor Daisaku Ikeda, quoting the German poet Carl Busse, mused about happiness. In the end it is the journey, what he calls “creating value”, that he sees as “true happiness”. For Tom there was something magical about the way that the distant hills of Bodmin Moor beckoned his eye across the intervening landscape. Then, in painting his way across the shapes between ‘where I am now and the distant skyline, I discover that the journey there, creating the values that are involved, is a source of real satisfaction to me.’ Tom states.
* Translated from German. Carl Busse (1872–1918), “Ueber den Bergen . . .” (Over the Mountains), Neue Gedichte (New Poems), (Stuttgart: Verlag der J. G. Cotta’schen Buchhandlung, 1896), p. 70. quoted by Ikeda in a lecture: Ushering In A New Year Filled With Happiness and Hope
( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/dog-windy-hill/ ) is a celebration of the delightful personality of Rags, the Border Collie Merle who for many years accompanied Tom on his forays into the landscape here in Cornwall. Rags and Tom were sitting together on the granite outcrop at the top of Carn Bosavern overlooking St Just and Lands End. There was a stiff breeze from the town below and the sea beyond. This must have carried scents that fascinated the dog while Tom was able to study her noble profile.
Carnival time, St Columb (https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/carnival-time-st-columb/ ) was a celebration of the festive atmosphere in St Just during its carnival week in August 2014. The slightly quirky character of some of the town’s buildings, when seen against the light, provided just the right foil for a crazy mass of colourful bunting as it fluttered in the breeze. On a larger scale and more complex than anything Tom had done since the Lafrowda 2014 canvas, this piece kept him busy for several weeks.