The 750th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes is being celebrated in a tapestry, stitched by local embroiderers. The artist who designed the work is Tom Walker, who is our featured artist this week.
The tapestry will be on public display in the Lewes Castle Gun Garden between 3pm and 5.30pm before moving to permanent display at the Lewes Barbican Museum.
Lewes Arts Artist Profile: Tom Walker
What are you doing today?
Completing the construction of the display stand for the Battle of Lewes Tapestry, then deconstructing it ready to transfer it to the Gun Garden marquee at the Castle on Wednesday morning.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
In my head and at my home studio in Cooksbridge.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
The most recent of many has been the Battle of Lewes Tapestry, the most exciting part of which has been watching 60 very skilled embroiderers bringing my design to life. It’s my first large-scale project when I haven’t done all the work on my own!
What made you decide to become an artist?
The encouragement of my creativity by my parents, teachers and friends; the inspiration of the work of other artists, an innate love of drawing and the fact that I didn’t want to do anything else and failed everything at school except for getting the lowest pass grade in O’level Art. I think it was always there from the beginning and nobody tried to stop me! My mother was fond of telling people I had declared my intention to be an artist when I was 4, though I have no recollection of that!
What are you currently working on?
An open-ended series of still-life-related images called ‘fruit pastels’ in which the identities of the kinds of familiar objects to be found in that genre become subject to doubt or at a tangent to their real selves.
What are the key themes in your work?
Each new theme I choose to explore – or maybe it chooses me – be it Harlequin, organ music, submerged cathedrals, snooker, elephants in rooms etc, becomes a key with which to unlock a universe of possibilities. What guides them all is a desire to surprise myself and avoid repetition, but to embrace hesitation and deviation. The unification of opposites is a central core. Humour is also very important as the essential counterpart of seriousness.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
That they want to keep looking at it and form their own interpretations of it.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
Pastel is the most flexible and versatile 2D medium. I enjoy exploring, technically and compositionally and pastel enables me to freely improvise, rapidly and continuously so that my pictures can evolve through a truly metamorphic process. It can also be adapted to any kind of image from the very precise to the wildly chaotic. It suits my restless need to keep open and moving forward and not too comfortable or stuck in my ways.
What equipment could you not do without?
Pastels, rubbers and black paper.
Who or what inspires you?
Pretty much everything because everything can be inspiring according to how it is experienced or perceived or encountered. Chance, coincidence, synchronicity, that curious combination of light and darkness that suddenly appears. Nature, music, literature, the works of many visual artists in every genre, including the less well known such as David Blackburn, Pavel Tchelitchev, Roland Jarvis. Impossible question!
How is your art affected by living in this area?
The surrounding landscape does enter into my work from time to time but I tend to work from my imagination which is fed by all aspects of my environment and visual experience.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
Enjoy a pint of Harveys best bitter.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
For art in general, either of the London Tates.
If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?
The Deposition from the Cross (c.1526) by the Italian Mannerist, Jacopo Pontormo, because it defies gravity.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
Marcel Duchamp, a unique creative intelligence, because he got there, wherever that may be, before anyone else!
Who do you think is the most underrated artist?
Probably the one with the least marketing skills?
Underrated/overrated, who does the rating in the first place? This doesn’t have much meaning for me since ratings or accreditations these days seem largely to be dictated by the art market. It depends on what the artist wants too, of course, if he/she wants fame and fortune in which case they need to develop their marketing skills; or simply to be gripped by the desire to create and to develop their skills as an artist regardless of the outcome? Tricky question. I couldn’t single out any artist in that way.
What’s your favourite colour?
Yellow (at the moment)
Visit Tom’s website: www.tommwalker.co.uk
Tom runs monthly pastel workshops, alternating first Sundays and Fridays 10am-4pm, and weekly pastel classes Tues morning 10-12.30 and Thurs evening 7-9 at his studio. For info contact Tom by e-mail: email@example.com or phone 01273/472595