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.
This painting, Lafrowda Day 2014, is the successor to eleven previous Lafrowda paintings. That this one seems strangely different from its predecessors may be partly due to the fact that it was painted at The Lanherne Studio in St Columb rather than in the town of St Just where the festival took place and where all the others were made.
It was returning to St Just for Lafrowda Day in mid July 2014 that supplied the initial inspiration for the picture. Perhaps this time however the added element of physical distance during the weeks of studio work that Tom spent on it highlighted its independent existence. As with previous Lafrowda pictures the painting process was based on memories informed by digital references about the surreal images he had seen at the festival but celebrating all this material in paint here in a different town h enhanced for Tom the feeling that this was a Lafrowda of the mind. He mused: ‘Could there really have been such extraordinary juxtapositions? Did some of these figures really reach to the rooftops or was it indeed all in my mind?’
An aspect of this curious feeling as Tom worked and since completing the painting was a suspicion that this time the cast of characters who inhabited it were actually part of him! ‘Are they archetypes?’ Tom wondered ‘or even personifications of old papa Jung’s ideas? Fascinating!’
As with most of previous Lafrowda paintings, this one was sold to benefit the festival in future years. Many thousands of pounds are required to stage the two week festivities that culminate on Lafrowda Day in Cornwall’s most westerly town of St Just. Numerous local schools and other groups take part in a surge of creativity that is a great source of satisfaction for everyone involved as well as attracting thousands of visitors whose time spent there certainly boosts the town’s economy.
To see a larger image of the Lafrowda 2104 painting click on the image above or on https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/lafrowda-day-2014/ . To see images of all the previous Lafrowda paintings go to https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/exhibitions/ten-years-lafrowda-paintings-exhibition/ .