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A Visionary in a Visionary Landscape

“Tom...  He made colour shimmer and dance on the canvas as he painted to the music of Elgar, Williams and Debussy.  With one hand in his pocket, the other holding his brush he painted as a conductor with a baton, only his was an orchestra of colour and tone.

I remain privileged to have been a student of Tom’s in the late 1970s and have so many happy memories of him, both as an artist and as a friend.  He was the man I learnt from, who I went to the pub with, who I laughed with and who guided and helped me.  For me our relationship seemed to go beyond that of student / lecturer and I remember on many occasions painting with him when the other students had gone home and the college was completely empty. Afterwards, with paint still on our hands we would go to the pub and much later, back to his house near the art college, where we would talk about the great artists and he would play classical music.  Such special times, and for me a mere art student I could barely believe my luck that I was sharing and learning from this talented and inspirational man.

He told me how the rainbow in his work represented his uncle and that his intention was to break up the landscape with the colours of nature, to represent a romantic vision from reality to abstraction;  almost like the notes in a piece of music hang, suspended in the air, gradually becoming colours in space. 

One time he told me I would be successful as an artist because of my imagination and strength of commitment, his belief in me was formative and I know I owe Tom a great gratitude of thanks, quite simply without him I would not be the artist I am today.

In the 1990s I had the honour of exhibiting my work with Tom’s, in London at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.  It remains a source of great sadness, that shortly after this he became ill and passed away. Nevertheless, Tom still remains a constant guiding presence in my life. When I am working and needing support, guidance, advice or even a strong talking to, I can ask him a question and I hear him answer me, in his strong London accent, that I miss so much.   

To hear that some of Tom’s work is being shown in an exhibition is wonderful, to know that his great ability as a colourist will be seen and appreciated by a whole new audience is something I know would please him. 

That Tom’s work still shines and that his vision remains as inspiring, fresh and unique today as it was on the day he created it, is an indication of this very special man’s ability as a true artist.


Mackenzie Thorpe