Following the successful conclusion of the Lafrowda Festival Benefit Painting Auction on July 16th 2016 Tom felt drawn to make some gentle pastoral pieces.
So, back at his Studio after all that excitement, his priority was first of all to ’chill out’. Valley shapes, St Columb(see above) came from this impulse in which simple bands of colour, on quite a small scale, interpret the ’soft weather’ of a damp July day here in mid Cornwall.
A little more ambitious, though still using modified bands of colour that step straightforwardly into the landscape space, was Summer storm over Castle An Dinas . A suggestion of movement from right to left became a pre-occupation here, hinting perhaps at the drama of the back-story, the ancient fortified settlement that later served as a Roundhead encampment here in a strategically central location within the Duchy.
With the approach of Lafrowda Day 2016 on July 16th Tom had been recalling the extraordinary impact for him of the afternoon procession on the Lafrowda Day of the previous year. In particular it was the Yellow Submarine advancing down Fore Street in St Just that had appealed to him. What was it about it that had resonated so strongly for him?
Some of you may remember seeing the original animated film when it was released in 1968 (Director George Dunning, Artistic Director Heinz Edelmann). At that time, Tom was a second year student in Fine Art at Newcastle University at the time. He hitch-hiked down the A1 and M1 one weekend, spent some time in the National Gallery and then went to see the Yellow Submarine film in Leicester Square that evening. Watching the trailer online brought it all back for Tom ! The Guardian ran a fascinating article about it just before the re-release ( http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/nov/19/beatles-yellow-submarine-simpsons-shrek ) which discusses the origins and making of the film. All kinds of interpretations have been brought to it. For Tom, however, in addition to enabling the Fab Four to save Pepperland through music from the devastating effects of the Blue Meanies, the Yellow submarine was simply a wonderful image of community inclusion.
The inspiration for Morning light down Fore Street, St Columb ( ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/morning-light-fore-street-st-columb/ ) came from a walk down through the Cornish town of St Columb. This was on one of many studio visits as Tom was about to move back towards the end of four months living at the other end of this community. Here the complexities of quirky architecture along the way seemed like an equivalent for another promising spin-off from the time he’d spent living away. ‘Spin-off’ refers to an art and heritage-related project that, together with Gabrielle Hawkes, his partner, he initiated for the town that they had come to love. Here Tom describes how it came about:
“Our days had been for weeks split between the studio at one end of town and our rented house at the other end so this made us more than ever aware of this community that we are part of. By-passed in the late 1970s, already passed over when the choice of Truro as Cornwall’s cathedral city was made in the 19th century and having lost far too many shops to the supermarket trade in larger towns all around it, St Columb cries out for regeneration. Together with a handful of art loving friends here, we are planning towards a project that we hope will make a difference. Encouraged by the experience of art related regeneration that occurred over at least the last twenty years of the thirty we spent in St Just-in-Penwith we aim to help release the creative potential within this community as well.
New houses at dawn from Carloggas Way ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/new-houses-dawn-carloggas-way/ ) was, for Tom, about the sense of promise that accompanies a new day, especially one in which long planned for events are about to occur. In this case it was the return to his‘proper‘ home after four months at a rented house to enable refurbishing to happen following an insurance claim. The glow of early morning sunshine that picked out the hilltop houses here from those still bathed in cool shade on the lower slopes was for Tom a vehicle to contain the hope he felt. For him they were perhaps symbols of the positive potential inherent in this situation as he and Gabrielle prepared to move back.