My work deals with visual perception, in particular the fact that we can receive conflicting information from a given visual stimulus. The preconceived assumptions of eye and brain are challenged, raising questions about the subconscious and how we interpret what we are looking at.
Change through time and the inevitable accumulation of experience are themes that have underpinned my practice from early on. The way for example that buildings, much used objects and faces age, weathering and transforming with the passage of time, is a constant source of inspiration. I try to evoke a patina of experience in my pictures. This also directly relates to the methods used to make my work.
I incorporate a variety of materials in each picture, from paints and inks, to gesso and earth, which are applied in numerous layers. Each strata of material is laid down in varying thicknesses and finishes. A textured surface is produced, where the layers are often rubbed away unevenly and evidence of previous activity can be glimpsed.
I have spent much of my adult life living and travelling overseas. Four years in New Zealand was shortly followed by stints in Southern Europe. These experiences have fed directly into my work. My years spent in Southern Spain and Sicily, where I became interested in the Moorish history and in Islamic art in general, had a profound impact on me and my continuing fascination with Islamic art has been another significant reference point in current work.
Tom Cartmill 2008