Tom Rickman was born in the City of London 1960
I grew up in the suburbs of West London though spent my childhood holidays in Charmouth West Dorset where from an early age I soaked up the green hills and blue sea.
Finishing Art School in 1982 I left London and headed for the hills to paint the Landscape and sea that had made such an impression on me as a youth.
I worked from a beach hut at Charmouth painting the changing light of Lyme Bay.
The nature of the place was very atmospheric, the deep grey blue Lias of the Cliffs, soft clay, the bay stretching out to the horizon, the edge of the land sucking the last throws of light from the twilight, the sea a shimmering plain. It was a time of opening out and siffting through all that stuff from art school. I think this time formed alot of ideas that I would keep retuning to in later years. The idea of light and colour, which I had excersised in college, being at the centre of my creative work. Now I was out there so to speak amongst it.
As well as painting alot of walking was done, and I allways seemed to head west. Along the beach to get around 'that' next headland or climbing to the crown of a hill to see 'that' view again.I seemed to want space and distance. The light and air filling the sky and landscape was my source.
The first time I discovered Cornwall was in 1984 walking the coastpath from Falmouth around to Landsend. I fell for it imediately the constant presence of the sea and the opulent light of the peninsuler. I finally moved to west Cornwall in 1992.
The clarity and freshness of the light sometimes astounds me, there are allways new moments to experiance.
It is a place that reinvents itself constantly to oneself.
Each time I arrive in Venice I am struck by the contrasts of its Light and dark spaces. The open vistas of ornate buildings, sky and water seem in direct contrast to the dark passageways and hidden quiet courtyards. The city proclaims itself at once through its beauty and history, yet hides another self like an intricate story or strange theatrical show. It is curious that the mask has become a symbol of this enchanting and mysterious place.
To leave Venice is always sad, yet the visions and memories one takes away seem as rich as the light and shadows that are left behind.
The past few years there seems to have been an unconcious connection to places that have informed my work.
I seem to have been drawn to Islands of various size and character.
They are a landscape defined by their own edge. ( one could even draw a parallel with the cloud studies )
I'm quite happy trundling inbetween islands on varoius boats be it The Outer Hebrides, - Scotland, Venice - Italy, Scilly - Cornwall, Sicilly or Majorca.In fact it is the journey to these places that is as much the thing as the place itself - that in-betweeness and completeness that appear together out of time.
There is a connection between these places, that sense of otherworldliness that I feel when I step off a ferry, the sense of being defined by the islands edges and pleasantly marooned for a short while.
Painting the Land and Sea
For some time now I have been interested in the minimal qualities of the sea and sky, using the horizon as a focal point of the picture. These paintings take as their subject the specific time or moment of twilight.
“ At the end of the day there is a progression of movements where light/colour is compressed above the horizon as it moves towards night. This resonant, sometimes sublime time, marks a poignant moment of the day.”
“ A brief glimpse into stillness, a sense of the past and present fluxed into one moment. A last glance at the day’s light before the surfaces around you sink into icy blackness. ““ The works represented in this show are concerned with the seemingly empty void of air and light in two different geological regions of the British Isles, Cornwall and The Western Highlands of Scotland. Though quite different in nature physically, they both occupy a sense of remoteness and grandeur. They lie on a coastline facing out to the opulent light and brimming richness of the western sky.
The Western Approaches of the Atlantic Ocean can be seen as a specific place from Cornwall, an area, though remote, filled with weather and atmosphere that in turn shapes our climate. It is a flood of space and light, a realm to view into ...”
“ The Scottish Highlands also lie on the edge of a vast ocean. The convoluted coast of lochs, mountains and glens bending and funneling the light and space around the geography of this magnificent place.
Both the Scottish Highlands and West Cornwall have an overwhelming sense of the romantic, an
inspiring and awesome nature beneath their surface: they dwarf the individual. One is an uninterrupted flood of pure light and weather, the other is a profusion of light and space permeating deep into the sculptured physical make up of the land. Entering into them as a painter a relationship is found - the large
spaces become intimate and symbol and subject become personal. These areas are my nearest wilderness, and as an artist I wish to dip my toe into the
vast pond of their firmament. “
The Scilly Isles
I first visited the Islands in 1984, camping on each of the islands in turn, each one leaving their own impression and magic. Then I lived in West Dorset and always had a fascination with the west (as I still do).
So journeying to the far west of Britain seemed a logical progression and more importantly a recognizable need in myself and my work .
Since then I have moved to West Cornwall and spend time viewing and working from the Western Skies over the Atlantic off Lands end. Scilley is always there sitting on the horizon like a group of jewels laced with romanticism and mystery. Sometimes a few smudges swallowed in murky storms other times exotic shapes bathed in the brilliant atlantic light.
So to satisfy my ‘western need’ I make journey’s to the ‘Fortunate Isles’ to paint and soak up the special atmosphere of the place. Also it is somewhere that sits on the edge of the great wilderness that is The Atlantic Ocean, somewhere that draws my eye into that vast firmament.
I seem to be drawn to painting amongst islands, whether they are Scilly, The Outer Hebrides and Western Highlands of Scotland, Nantucket Island in the States and recently new found muse Sicily, Italy.
Islands seem the closest place one can get to being in a garden and being amongst the waves - and no more so than on Tresco.
Tom Rickman June 2002