Nine Views of Gotham City

Saturday ... was sunny and blue this morning after a week of rain but now has gone sullen and grey again. Talking to a friend on the phone last night I learned that today was the last day of Tom Carment's latest show over in Danks Street, Waterloo. I haven't missed a show of Tom's for quite a few years now so I'm glad to have got to this one too. He used to exhibit in dealer galleries but now he hires the space himself and hosts it too, so I figured he'd be there today - and he was, along with his partner Jan. Dunno where their kids were, apart from in the portraits on the walls. I wrote three books in a small writing room under Tom and Jan's kitchen where they still live in Womerah Lane, Darlinghurst, in the 1990s. I remember the dust that used to fall across the keyboard of my Amstrad as someone crossed the floor above, the sound of the Playschool theme coming from the television when their eldest boy, Felix, came home in the afternoon, long happy conversations with Tom about books and painting. He had a studio next to my room for a while but he was more likely to be found writing than painting in it - he's always painted en plein air and still does. He told me today, with a characteristic glint of slightly mad enthusiasm in his eye, that he now carries his watercolour pad and paints with him everywhere. In contradistinction to the grandiosity that has afflicted much painting in recent years, Tom's work has stayed small. I find that somehow estimable. Sometimes I think there is more going on in one of his sea or landscapes, his portraits of people or buildings, than in any number of more impressively sized works. Tom's work registers detail nervously as it occurs in front of him. Though not old fashioned, he's a traditionalist and you can see in his work passages of paint that are reminiscent of Australian painters like Arthur Streeton or Fred Williams, as well as more obscure names. These homages, if that's what they are, are accomplished effortlessly, gracefully, they come simply out of Tom's long practice as a painter and his lifetime of looking at both his subjects and the work of his fellows. I enjoyed all the work on show today but my favourites were probably the portraits of Sydney buildings like the nine panels of Adereham Hall, better known as Gotham City, in Elizabeth Bay or the various versions of an unrenovated boarding house in Moore Park.

... for some reason blogger won't link this post to Tom's website so if you want to see what his work looks like, go to:


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