In issue 8 we met up with UK artist Tom Sewell who works with digital media, collage, photography, drawing and print design. His amazing abstract, colourful work stood out as exotic and other Worldy so we quizzed him on how travel and his life experiences have affected his art.
Which is your favourite collaborative piece?
Any of my work with Landfill Editions. Principally because Hugh who runs it is one of my very best friends and working with your friends is the best thing you can do.
How would you describe your style?
A quasi-scientific psychedelic investigation into what the world looks like and how weird places and things are.
What inspires you as an artist? We’ve noticed food and space as themes.
Nature, science and the landscape are really important to me in terms of inspiration and finding ways to understand the world. The universe and the natural world are inexhaustible sources of wonder for me. There is a huge psychedelic influence and this comes in part from things like Aldous Huxley’s ‘Doors of Perception’ and Oliver Sacks’ writings on neuroscience and visual perception, things which show that a kind of visual strangeness is bound up in how we see the world.
You work with a lot of different types of media, which is your favourite?
I guess it feels natural to try and do everything. There are so many interesting things to do and see and ways to work that you might as well attempt to do it all, if you can. I’m not sure I have a favourite, different ways of working fit different things that I make. There’s a dialogue between medium and content; digital work leads more often to dense, brightly coloured, psychedelic work, because you’re using a screen made of light. Whereas drawing is going to make things slower, calmer and more considered, at least the way I draw does. I suppose I just get different things from doing different things, I imagine everyone does.
We love your use of colour, how does it impact your work?
Colour is such a beautiful and rich element of the human experience it’s impossible to ignore. Everywhere there is colour, everything should be colour. Everything is colour. Colour is everything. And digital media allows such freedom to manipulate, create and push colours that it begins to feel like an inevitable consequence of working that way.
Where is the most interesting place your work has taken you? And did technology aid your trip and/or artistic process?
A friend once told me that he thought that travel is the 21st century’s biggest privilege, I’m inclined to agree. To be able to fly cheaply and to have seen all the things and been to all the places that people a generation or two ago could only have imagined is an enormous opportunity. A camera goes everywhere with me when I’m away and records the landscape I’m in, providing me with an archive of source material to make work from; to try and understand how odd, how unknowable, how overwhelming, how beautiful, how confusing and how sublime the world is. The act of moving through the world, separating yourself from routine and just being in transit is one of the best states of being.
What’s the best thing about summer?
The light and the heat. The sun. Being outside. Camping with friends. Climbing Trees. Being in water.
Which artists are you influenced by or do you admire?
Norman Ackroyd for his incredible investigation into the outlying edges of our archipelago. Sigmar Polke’s playfulness, diversity of approach and serious involvement in medium and process. William Blake for being a true visionary. Bill Drummond for being in the KLF and not giving a shit. Julian Cope for making amazing music, dressing like a lunatic and becoming an authority on prehistory. Eduardo Paolozzi for making the greatest of screen prints.
What’s next for you, any new collaborations or exhibitions you can tell us about?
I’ve just finished a stained glass-style backlit triptych of windows for a new bar Bompas & Parr are opening soon where you get drunk on air. I’m working towards a show at Landfill’s ‘Site Office’ gallery in Nottingham of my Imaginary Standing Stones project. And I’m about to start a Masters in printmaking at Camberwell to explore, investigate, deepen and enjoy my artistic practice.