Finding that sense of place

Joan Sullivan
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

'Never Far Inland' continues at Christina Parker Gallery until Nov. 30

A sense of place can reside in a work of art in a variety of ways. A piece can be highly representational, even documentary, like a Corot cityscape. It can be a work of specifically titled Impressionism, like a Pissarro countryside. Or it can embody a sensibility, an experience that is a more personal geography, but still marks an emblematic, accessible and shared terrain.

That is one aspect of Tom Hammick's work (the sheer punchy loveliness of it is another). The pieces here feature uncomplicated, almost generic forms, stylized designs of blue petals or psychedelic bands of colour, a flat perspective, and an often isolated frontal presentation of a subject. These combine into a naÏve yet formal and decorous look. This is much underscored by Hammick's choice of using materials like linen or board in his creation, which increase the "found" quality of the imagery and technique. These are considered, distilled works infused with an ethereal atmosphere and poignant sense of belonging and home.

Left, Night Studio, reduction woodcut, 20" x 28", 2009; right, Tanker 2, oil on gesso board, 10.75" x 14", 2009 - Submitted photos

A sense of place can reside in a work of art in a variety of ways. A piece can be highly representational, even documentary, like a Corot cityscape. It can be a work of specifically titled Impressionism, like a Pissarro countryside. Or it can embody a sensibility, an experience that is a more personal geography, but still marks an emblematic, accessible and shared terrain.

That is one aspect of Tom Hammick's work (the sheer punchy loveliness of it is another). The pieces here feature uncomplicated, almost generic forms, stylized designs of blue petals or psychedelic bands of colour, a flat perspective, and an often isolated frontal presentation of a subject. These combine into a naÏve yet formal and decorous look. This is much underscored by Hammick's choice of using materials like linen or board in his creation, which increase the "found" quality of the imagery and technique. These are considered, distilled works infused with an ethereal atmosphere and poignant sense of belonging and home.

The 17 pieces in "Never Far Inland" include small oil paintings and larger reduction woodcuts. The title is a nod to a poem by Elizabeth Bishop and also a reference to Newfoundland's settlement logistics, which were determined by sea routes, not road access. (This exhibition also runs concurrently to another, larger one of the same name showing at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook.)

Most works present a single or a small grouping of basic forms and structures. Many are about houses and these are always A-frames, saltboxes or one-storey buildings, usually seen at night with darkened areas outlined by bold, bright yellows or purples. Their windows are delineated with geometric patterns, or organic motifs in a grain of wood or standing white flowers, or blocks of cream or green, small bright rectangles all aglow. There are few people or animals, although there are figures in pieces like "Thomas Atkins," "Horse and Boy," "Two Beds," and "Three Beds."

Lots of paintings are about boats, often Coast Guard ships or oil tankers. This is in keeping with the theme of the show, but Hammick also seems to just like their shape. Some are trim in red and white, others have dark hulls edged in pink and offset by radiant oblongs of windows or rudimentary background infrastructure. Their wakes are represented by triangles that almost sit atop the ships.

The reduction woodcuts have an intriguing interplay of planes. "Two Beds" and "Three Beds," for example, are each enveloped and sheltered by a budding tree - black with blue blossoms in the first print, purple skimmed with pink and flowering in white in the second. Both have rectangles, the beds, either blocked out with quilt squares of florals, or left dark. Thus they suggest both garden 'beds' and the more domestic furnishings. These are peopled, with women and a man and a woman, indeterminate in terms of features, but filled to their outlines with lively reds and purples and funky stripes of yellow, blue and brown. Each image seems to add another layer of perception.

All the colours are luscious, unexpected yet natural in their magic hour spectrums of pink, lilac, orange, lime and indigo. These are almost always scenes seen in a dusky light and set ajump with a contrasting, almost neon pigment. While displaying this energy they still convey serenity, as in "Soft Stars Over The Eastern Shore," where a house of little patterned windows sits under a cascade of daubed stars, against a crest of bow and ocean. Viewing this house from outside gives us a feeling of approach. The lights suggest a welcoming occupation. Thus the visual dynamics are refined into something appreciably quiet and composed.

Tom Hammick's "Never Far Inland" continues at the Christina Parker Gallery until Nov. 30.

telegram@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Coast Guard

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Corner Brook, Eastern Shore

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments