This small (15cm x 20cm) painting perfectly captures the intensity of feeling for a particular place that Deakins (b.1957) manages to convey in his work – not just how something looks, but also how he, as an artist, has experienced it; the smell of summer rain on warm earth, the crunch of snow underfoot, or the glow of sunlight on a brick wall.
Tom Deakins’s landscapes deserve to be more widely known and although seven of his paintings are in public collections, including the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne as well as the Fry Art Gallery, most are dispersed amongst his ardent admirers who recognize something unique in his style and chosen subjects, whether a patch of scrubby snow-covered field with bare trees on the horizon silhouetted against a winter evening sky, or a large cloud formation turbulently moving across a cultivated Essex landscape of cornfields and hedgerows. His artistic vision is imbued with the sense of place that other artists and writers have described at length, and indeed Deakins himself has said that his home in Great Dunmow and its surroundings have been at the heart of his inspiration for over 40 years. His paintings all bear signs of the human activity that has shaped his local environment, whether by agriculture or building, accident or design, and whilst being devoid of human figures, they are saturated with human presence and meaning. These are not landscapes in the picturesque sense, but all carry a quiet hint of the poetic, the mysterious, the unexplained.
Educated at Newport Grammar School near Saffron Walden in Essex, Deakins went on to complete a BA in Fine Art at Newcastle-upon-Tyne University in 1980. Since then he has been teaching and painting subjects that are dear to him, the vast majority of which are located within a few miles of his home.
This painting featured in last year’s Random Spectacular exhibition, curtailed because of the pandemic, from 31 August to 25 October 2020.
Purchased by The Fry Art Gallery Society.