Tom Hickman enjoys a silent start to his days, he finds it the best time for quiet contemplation, before the early morning bus passes at 6.40am, a time he considers the highest priorities on his “to-do” list, weather and midges permitting.
Hickman lives alone in a croft on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, he has no mobile phone, ipad, television or wifi. He recently wrote: “Naïve, primitive, amateur, provincial, self-taught, non-accademic: stylistically there is no one term that satisfactorily describes my stitching of sheep on tweed remnants. Some would say they are not even art, being well outside the realms of taste established by the elite culture, however I prefer to regard them as a truly vernacular response to my Hebridean island surroundings”.
Hickman is self-taught yet blessed with an inquisitive nature and natural eye, together with an extraordinary creative instinct and untamed energy. His works are composed of mixed media, generally fashioned from “collaged” remnants of locally woven Harris tweed, which he then works and embroiders with coloured yarns, raw and felted wools and various other materials he has to hand. The work has roots in the British folk art tradition and a there is a delightfully uninhibited freedom about them. Unique and uncluttered by precedent or concept, they are gloriously unexpected and joyous. In common with much of the best traditonal folk art these works make you smile, they have a quality of humour and childlike surprise that Hickman feels is rarely found in academic art, and inspired him to describe his work as “Laughable Art”.
“Beyond the Mainland” (December 2021) was Tom Hickman’s first one man show in London and we were proud to present this extraodinary collection, by a sixty seven year old “emerging artist”, as part of our Contemporary Collaborations intiative.
Robert Young, Battersea.
“It is said that artists must if nothing else attempt to depict and relate to the present day and while some are drawn to comment or be influenced by the terrible things that come to pass in our connected world, I in my insular ignorance stitch images of the neighbour’s sheep, spinning and felting wool found on the crofts, then embroidered onto Harris Tweed remnants” (Qu. Tom Hickman)