PARALLEL LIVES: Photography & painting
Tom Hunter is an artist working with photography and film. HIs photographs, made with a 5x4 large format camera, confront the viewer with beautiful images of everyday life. These works tell us stories of people, humble people, or people living on the edge of society, particularly in Hackney, East London where the series 'Living in Hell and Other Stories' is mostly based. Hunter is particularly skilled at capturing effects of light. He uses available light which in painterly way, inspired by artists such as the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Hunter has carefully studied these paintings - the poses of the figures, the play of light on various surfaces and the hidden political iconography - creating contemporary photographic equivalents.
Hunter’s previous works, particularly the various photographic series which counter negative media images of the borough’s traveller and squatter populations with affirmative, ripe-coloured portraits that freely reference art-historical iconographies, have, through intricately staged correspondences with the painted past, sought to elevate a weather-beaten topography into a spacious über-principality whose events read as both specific and universal, where life and death alike have found some degree of dignity through colour or correlation.
-- Martin Herbert
Research is an important part of Tom Hunter's practice. Research can take many forms, from gathering information in written texts, to drawing and making photographic images. Information, ideas, thoughts and observations can come to light as the work evolves. Visiting an art gallery is a valuable experience and a great way to do research. The Internet can also be helpful. View here for a selection of works from the national Gallery collection, for example. There are also a wealth of teaching resources available to view. You can also read newspaper articles, artist essays, books, magazines and visit other gallery websites.
- Research a painting from one of the resources available above. Find out everything that you can about the painting.
- Who painted it? What was happening at the time the painting was created. How is the painting framed? What can you notice about the position or the stance of the sitter? How is space used within the painting? Comment on the colours used?
- Write a short biographical account of your own life. What are your interests? Do you have a particular or unusual hobby which you are happy to share? You could write about your family or friends. Are there moments, situations or events within your familial or friendship groups which you want to capture and remember forever?
- Are there any political or ethical issues which concern you? They may be national or global.
- Write at least 500 words about any of the above.
- Recreate a scene using the painting you researched as a starting point. Take several photographs from lots of different angles. Take your time. Direct your sitters/models thoughtfully. Remember you are the director of the image so you may want to think about the background, the foreground, the space - both positive and negative - within the image. Think carefully about colour and lighting. Do you want to recreate a painting with a modern twist, i.e. modern clothing in the same colours, or could you experiment with draped fabrics, available props and whatever space is available to you. Don't allow anything to restrict you. The photographs should be an imaginative recreation of the original painting.
- Create a set of six images inspired by the painting and expressing an aspect of your biography.
- By reconstructing something that interests you or something that you feel passionate about the resulting images will be personal and meaningful.