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.
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.
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.
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.
In this post Tom writes about three new additions to his collection for Reprieve, his September 2018 exhibition held at Bodmin Shire Hall.
Winter dusk at St Columb ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/winter-dusk-st-columb/ ) was a response to the darkest time of the year and in particular his sense of how the warmth of community life sustained him through such times, whether they were literally wintry or just sombre and worrying like the experience of serious illness that dominated 2017 for him.
Winter light, Mawgan Porth ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/winter-light-mawgan-porth/ ) aimed to express something of the awe and wonder that could occur to Tom in the presence of light, water and coastal landscape forms in a quite simple combination. Such responses could, he found, be enhanced by the realisation that he was still alive and able to enjoy them!
Evening gardens, St Columb ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/evening-gardens-st-columb/ ) uses source material from the autumn to provide references to colours and shapes with which he could express the delight he felt about continuing to be involved in community life here while enjoying a remission in his illness.
View these paintings at https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product-tag/reprieve-exhibition/ . A proportion of the proceeds of these sales was donated to a cause that Tom supported, Reprieve ( https://reprieve.org.uk/topic/death-penalty/ ), a charity that campaigns against the death penalty that still exists in some parts of the world. It occurred to Tom that there was a poignancy about showing this particular collection at Bodmin Shire Hall, a former court-house where people have been condemned to death in the past and he wanted to acknowledge that by giving the donation.