Thursday, 23 April 2015

EARTH FIRE ASH - Exhibition

Greyfriars Art Space in King's Lynn hosts an eclectic mix of artists throughout the year with the current show being no exception. EARTH FIRE ASH by Tom Thompson is mixed media exhibition using ceramic sculpture and photography. As I entered I was met by Tom who introduced himself and the conversation began. But, not wanting to tie him up with me I looked around for the usual Statement or Catalogue so I could put some meaning to the work. Nothing, he explained. He had made a conscious decision to not produce anything, instead he spends all day in the gallery and takes individuals or small groups around the work and explains the conceptual thinking behind his work and to the likes of me the workflow. This is a brave and somewhat admirable way to show your work. Far too many artists set up, have the PV, chat to the movers and shakers and leave. The remaining time the gallery staff sit and provide security, with the occasional smile, while you read the Artist Statement. Tom's story made me smile as he prepared me with a short biography of his life. He is in his 60's and started out as a welder, working his way into management through the long route and when his circumstances changed a few years ago he studied for a BA in Fine Art. He had also played some music and enjoys all art. So, so far almost a copy of my biography, so after I explained this we had a mutual understanding of life and we started to look at the work. Starting with three large figures looking at a sphere. Each represented the components of the title and as they looked at the sphere, which could be the world he recounted how he had felt when making them. He had spent some time in France at the town of Oradour-sur-Glane and from the photographs he explained this connect. The town was the scene of possibly the worst SS murders in WW2. The entire population were massacred or burnt to death and the town has never been rebuilt, remaining to this day a monument to those who died. Earth, Fire, Ash is the theme of the photographs and the relationship to the ceramics is tangible, especially when standing with Tom. The second area of work is photography made with a pinhole camera, constructed by himself. He was inspired to do this while on a walking holiday in Spain. One of those on the trip was the current Leica lens designer and explained to Tom how to make his lunchbox into a camera. The photographs, often of multiple images were not easy to read and I think I need to go again to understand what is happening there. The ceramics depicting thinking, cultivation and joining of people were outstanding. They would be fabulous to have and light for photographic purposes. The textures and shapes were so tactile and reflected the engineering background Tom has, which is possibly why they appealed to me. Time was not on my side so I had to leave but I would like to talk to Tom more and hear about his time as an educator with people having learning difficulties and as an assistant in the art department at the local college. Both areas post degree that I would like to explore.


Images from the exhibition

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