Artist Tom Hughes moved to Bristol 13 years ago, and was so struck by the city that it became a main focus of his work. “There was something about the mix of urban grit, steep hills, Georgian houses and the wonderful suspension bridge and gorge that hooked me,” he explains. “I started painting outside on location in 2012 and Bristol served as a wonderful place to learn a new craft.”
Tom adds: “I paint a lot in the Cumberland basin, which gives a wonderful view down the Avon Gorge and up to the suspension bridge. It looks good in all weathers and any time of year, serving up a huge variety of colours and light effects that I strive to capture in a single sitting. Heading up to the top of gorge and looking back at the bridge generally means having the sun in your eyes which is a challenging effect to capture.”
Born in Colchester and raised in Oxfordshire, Tom initially wanted to be a professional snowboarder but “wasn’t good enough”. His second choice was to make a full-time living from his art. His career began as an illustrator before switching to painting when the “lure of oils became too much”.
Tom exhibits regularly at the Mall Galleries in London and has been selected for numerous prestigious prizes, including the BP Portrait Prize, the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize and The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. In 2014 he won the Benton Purchase prize at the Discerning Eye and in 2015 he won both the Smallwood Architects Prize at Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the prestigious critics prize at the New English Art Club.
“I’ve met so many interesting people while painting on location and subsequently seen Bristol from a new perspective,” Tom continues. “Everyone stops to chat, from lawyers to the homeless, there’s no demographic that is more or less interested than the other. I’m currently experimenting with some larger works of Bristol back in the studio, but still keep heading out to paint, as the practice has developed in to quite an addiction.”