Anyone observing Tom Rutherford at work in the print studio as he prepares for his first exhibition would see that he was in his element in the atmosphere of creativity and collaboration at Bradford School of Arts & Media.
Becoming an art student is the fulfilment of a longstanding ambition for retired head teacher Tom, who explained, “After I did my teacher training in Liverpool I was offered a place at art college in Wallasey to do painting and ceramics but I had to turn it down as I was getting married. I taught geography, art and craft in Halifax and after a headship in Oldham I retired early. I went back to the chalk face part-time, looked after my mother in law and even spent a year or two as a painter and decorator. But I had always drawn and finally, at the age of sixty four, I decided to enrol on the Foundation Degree in the Creative Industries.”
Now in the third and final year of his course, Tom has curated and marketed an exhibition, Observation Feeds The Imagination, as part of fulfilling the course’s work based learning element. Rather than just exhibiting his own work, Tom decided to invite others whose work he liked. Veronica Russell obtained her BA (Hons) Fine Art at Bradford three years ago and uses facilities via the artists’ access scheme and Heather Boxall, is a manager and lecturer within the School, but all three share common ways of observation in their diverse working practices.
The exhibition’s title is derived from a quote by Doug Binder that ‘observation feeds the imagination.’ Tom elaborated that Heather’s paintings are based on birds she has observed through binoculars; Veronica’s has done linoprints, woodcuts and screenprints showing people she has watched and photographed; while he captures landscapes by drawing and then produces screen prints and etchings.
Following the exhibition Tom will be preparing for his final show. He said “This work features mediaeval buildings in Calderdale, including Shibden Hall. Calderdale has the highest percentage of mediaeval buildings in the region, particularly in the Luddenden valley. I have really enjoyed the course which has been superbly supported. I would recommend it as a really good thing for other people who have retired, as well as young people just starting out.”
Observation Feeds The Imagination runs at Gallery 339 in Halifax from 1st March to 28th April 2012.