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A Successful Open Studio !

 I finally managed to hold Tom’s Open Studio from 7-14 December  while Cornwall was in Tier 1 and it was possible for people to visit the studio. 

Many thanks to all who were able to come in person, and to all those who studied the website and made online purchases.  

Tom’s Open Studio

Tom would have been moved and delighted by the response to his paintings and drawings. Over half of his remaining paintings were sold and, in accordance with his request, I was able to donate a cheque from the proceeds to the Treasurer of our community organisation Our Town St Columb Major, Arts and Heritage which Tom founded in 2016. This will be used to fund creative projects within our community.

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Open Studio is on!

I am very happy to announce that Tom’s Open Studio, postponed last month because of second lockdown, is now happening from 7 – 14 December.  Cornwall is in Tier One, so whereas it will be possible for Cornish residents to visit by appointment observing Covid guidelines, I realise that for many of you in tiers 2 and 3,  this will not be possible.  If however, you would like to view the paintings that will be in the show, please go to https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product-category/original-paintings-and-drawings/  .   Please email me or phone me (01637 498106) if you would like to reserve a painting .  

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Tom’s Open Studio

One of Tom’s requests as he neared the end of his life, was that when the time was right I should hold an Open Studio of his remaining works, to be sold in aid of our community here in St Columb Major, all proceeds from this show to go towards  Our Town St Columb Major Arts and Heritage, an organisation that Tom founded in 2017 to celebrate creativity within the community and the town’s rich architectural heritage.  In the meantime, Covid 19 and lock-down  have intervened making it difficult to plan events.    There will be a further post about this at a later date and subscribers will receive a reminder nearer the time.  

Please note: Since the re-launch of Tom’s website, sales have been continuing steadily and in order to ensure that there are sufficient paintings to warrant the Open Studio, I have taken the decision to withdraw from sale all the original paintings until just before the show, when they can be purchased in person or online, on the understanding that I would retain them on the wall  (clearly marked with the usual red spot denoting sold work)until after the 23 November  when the exhibition ends.  

If you happen to be interested in a particular painting, you can always contact me at any time via email gabrielle.hawkes@gmail.com .  For a deposit, I can ensure that the painting is reserved until after the show, when the balance would be payable and I can send you the painting (or if you are close enough, you can collect.)

 

 

 

 

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Tom’s Last Paintings

For those who are new to this website, let me introduce myself. I am Gabrielle Hawkes, Tom’s partner and friend of over thirty years. Tom died in November 2019 after a long struggle with prostate cancer. Some of the posts relating to the paintings of his last three years serve to document that journey, undertaken with his customary courage and positivity and always fortified by his strong Buddhist faith. It was important to Tom that his website continued after his death and that the paintings which he made in the last couple of months of his life were added.

Cottages at Cape Cornwall  (original sold)

https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/cottages-at-cape-cornwall/

 

Up until the last fortnight before Tom’s death, when a series of infections made him bed bound, he would go out to the studio in his wheelchair most days. In the tradition of the Old Masters, however, he took on John Harris, Sally Hobson and myself as his studio assistants for his last two paintings, One or other of us would be around to help him with studio tasks and on occasions, especially in the case of his large painting Cottages at Cape Cornwall to reach areas of the painting that his disability made impossible.  Another last painting on a smaller scale was Rocks and Sea, Cape Cornwall.

Rocks and Sea, Cape Cornwall

https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/rocks-and-sea-cape-cornwall/ ‎  

The sea was very important to Tom, and it seemed to me as I accompanied him on his journey through his illness, that it featured more and more in his work. The first painting he made when he received his diagnosis early in 2017 was Ethereal Shore,   https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/ethereal-shore/  an image of Mawgan Porth beach, endowed with a movingly transpersonal quality. The sea fused with the sky becomes the ethereal shore of death and also eternity. That shore that he paints is beautiful and holds no threat for him. I see something of the same quality in another painted around the same time, such as  Winter Light Mawgan Porth   ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/winter-light-mawgan-porth/ ) and an earlier one Stream to the Seahttps://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/stream-sea-porth-nanven/ )  As he became more disabled and unable to access the places he loved, Tom came to rely on what he called his ‘tranquil recollections’, drawing upon the many photographs that he took on his walks and coastal trips. Sometimes they would be from sites local to St Columb; at other times, he would delve into his photographs of the Penwith coastline.

Referring to an early painting in the series Waterlines, Tom wrote: ‘As I am coming to terms with being disabled and confined to a wheelchair, the landscape or seascape paintings that I now work on, have to use mainly reference material gathered some time ago. In this case, a late evening visit to Sennen Cove during my days at the Turn of the tide Studio in St Just provided the impetus I needed as the images gathered there resonated so strongly for me with the stage of life I am now experiencing.’

I am sure that painting these images of the seashore was therapeutic when the illness was taking its toll both physically and emotionally and helped him to maintain that ‘tranquil’ state that he refers to.

 

 

 

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On completing The Dome of Human Kindness

Completed dome at Penmount

Below is some text from the conclusion of the booklet Tom was writing about Rebuilding the Dome of Human Kindness. Once the process of the reconstruction was complete Tom handed over the finished structure to Cornwall Faith Forum. You can read the full text and see the illustrations at https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/rebuilding-the-dome-of-human-kindness/ . In accordance withTom’s wishes we hope to expand and develop this little publication in particular to include more photos about the interior colour scheme. The aim will be to use it as a fundraiser for the Dor Kemmyn Oval, the visionary multi-faith building that the Faith Forum is planning to build on the field that it leases from Cornwall County Council at Penmount.

One of the most remarkable features of carrying out the dome project was for Tom the way that it has brought the enthusiasm and combined skills of so many people together at each stage. There is in Nichiren Buddhism a concept of unity know as ‘Many in body, one in mind’ was amply demonstrated by this experience.

With its roots in a Christian upbringing, the concept of the dome has nevertheless taken on an aspect of Buddhist humanism now with the way its more public-facing display, shown externally, intrigues the eye, even from a distance. Its filigree of interlocking patterns seems to emphasise this, the Buddhist idea of dependent origination shown graphically with everything in life being interrelated. In carrying out the interior scheme, on the other hand, there was for Tom sheer enjoyment in the varied and juxtaposed colour areas that were created by his team of highly capable assistants. One human kindness leads to another. He saw hope for a transformation of society for the better.

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Reprieve at the old courthouse

Entrance to Reprieve Exhibition

The venue for Tom’s September 2018 exhibition was an old courthouse in the centre of Bodmin, mid Cornwall. He had shown there several times before. This time, however, it struck Tom as entirely appropriate that this space was once the public gallery, in a different meaning of the word, of what was once a courthouse.

Whilst  unfamiliar with the official records it must be the case that death sentences were once passed there. Perhaps some hapless plaintiff was once granted a stay of execution.  Tom felt at the time of this exhibition that he too had been granted a reprieve, at least for a while  in his succession of treatments for his illness, prostate and secondary bone cancer,  diagnosed in 2017.  Though the prognosis was that he was terminally ill, he fought his illness with incredible bravery and positivity, buoyed up by his Buddhist faith.   For Tom then, this exhibition was an opportunity to celebrate that he was still alive and painting but at the same time convey the wonder of that experience as well as his awareness of his mortality.

See all the paintings and installation shots here.

Tom was able to make a handsome donation to the charity Reprieve from sales in connection with this exhibition.

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Open studio 2018

Fascinating and helpful conversations during Open Studio Week 2018

Cornwall Open Studio Week this year proved especially helpful to Tom for some of the conversations he had with visitors about his future plans.  In some cases it was about the pieces he planned to show  in his September Bodmin Shire Hall exhibition ‘REPRIEVE’, about how particular canvases related to specific points in his ongoing experience of battling cancer. So, most of the image links below take you to a page about the collection for that planned exhibition.

However, the last two shots on this page, also picture links, relate to conversations about his  reconstruction of the Dome of Human Kindness, an ambitious mural project originally from his student years in Italy. In this case those two additional photos show the front and back of the first triangular canvas, re-stretched for this project,  painted in translucent layers on its marine plywood backing during Open Studio Week. These two photos are picture links that take you to pages explaining their context in the plan.  Seventeen more panels were developed in this way. For the story of how the original mural came into being in 1972 click HERE for an earlier blog post about it.

South and part of west wall

part of west and north walls

Part of north and east walls

East windows towards conservatory

Into the conservatory

Parts of north and east walls of conservatory

West and north walls of conservatory

A1 panel interior surface

A1 panel exterior surface

Among the conversations Tom had during the recent Open Studio Week on the topic of the dome reconstruction was one that came from a re-encounter with a gentleman who had been studio demonstrator on the first two years of Tom’s Fine Art degree course at Newcastle some fifty years ago and who had sought Tom out  at this Open Studio exhibition.  How satisfying it was for Tom to explain his current obsession about his Dome project to a man who had done so much to encourage him with the original canvas version all those years ago.

Conversations with friends about the thinking behind the development of this project in particular proved to be very clarifying for Tom.  Why not check out some of the posts on the Facebook pages: at: https://www.facebook.com/artoftomhendersonsmith/ and https://www.facebook.com/rebuildingthedome/ .

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About Cumulus and rooftops painting

Cumulus and rooftops ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/rooftops-and-cumulus/ )

Tom was invited to give a demonstration to members of Newquay Art Society. Trawling through the archive of his digital reference materials he came across shots taken a few years earlier that seemed to provide a promising starting point. It was during a summer afternoon visit to the cliffs at Bedruthan Steps. He had been recording the forms of the spectacular coast and sea when  a clap of thunder made him turn around towards the National Trust café there. The mass of cloud above and the rooftop forms of the buildings below provided an image of the kind of identity and difference that fascinated Tom.  Re-discovering this image, it seemed to Tom to ‘fit the bill’ perfectly for this demonstration. Tom explained about his interest in how the illuminated cloud mass was in some ways similar to, in others very different from, the roof structures below, the ’lively greys’ suggested by billowing cloud forms taking centre-stage between these two areas of the painting.

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About Silvery cloud above winter trees

Silvery cloud above winter trees ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/silvery-cloud-above-winter-trees/ ) arose from Tom’s response to colour interactions on a bright wintry afternoon near my studio here in Mid Cornwall as he walked with our dear elderly collie ‘Rags‘. The joyful clarity of most of the sky above this hillside meadow, adorned with leafless trees and illuminated by the glow of the gradually sinking sun, seemed at first marred by the cloud forms moving across it. Then Tom realised what was going on and that it could be brought out through the process of painting. He always strove for what he called ’lively greys’, finding ways to achieve them optically and sometimes by mixtures other than those of white and black. The cloud bank here provided an opportunity to place such greys in relation to the cool brightness of the open sky, the sombre warmth of winter trees and the earthy golden greens of a foreground field. There it could hang suspended, warmer than the azure blue, cooler than the earthy hues beneath, enigmatic and intriguing.

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Researching costs for a reconstruction

This post refers to plans to re-construct Tom’s ‘ Dome Of Human Kindness’ dome that dated from 1972. Click HERE to see a visualisation of the structure.

On 27th March 2018 Tom collected the first re-stretched triangular canvas of the 18 that would make up the reconstructed dome. This can be seen in the background of one of these shots. This is part of a ‘pilot’ study for the whole project so that Tom could work out all the costs prior to the start of a ‘crowdfunding’ scheme once . This was  a historic moment for Tom.

The approx 1/5th MDF scale model on the table in the foreground  enabled Tom to work out the angles of the bevelled edges of each panel.

Darren of T.P. Timber explained the need for the model to calculate all the angles for the bevels.  Here he is in the shot to show the scale of the approx 1/5th scale model.

 Here’s a shot of the interior of the model.