RAIZVANGUARDA welcomes the artist and painter, Neil Tomkins to the residency! During his time here, Tomkins will be working on his paintings as well as an experimental documentary in collaboration with our other artist in residence, Yuri Nesovič. To get to know Tomkins and where he gets his inspiration from, read his interview here!
Tell us about yourself, what do you do?
I was born in Australia and I’ve grown up in with a particular light of the Southern Hemisphere. Like all of us, my understanding of the world is limited to my own scope and coloured by my own experiences. However, since I was young I liked to travel, and with passion. I would often find myself exploring the Australian bush and getting into conversations with the wildlife there. Now that I’ve seen a little bit of the wider world, I understand that light moves differently wherever you are. Here the eucalyptus trees give off the same glow as back home, but it’s relationship here is foreign and monocultures exist of a breed of trees I see every day. The familiar is alien and the alien is familiar. I’m interested in contextualizing seeing, hearing and retelling my nuanced, new experiences.
In which field of art do you work, what topics are important for you as an artist? What are you passionate about?
I’m a painter in the mediums of acrylic and oil. I’m interested in alchemy. I found painting when I was around 18 but in retrospect, I was always a creative child. In painting, I experience a sense of freedom of vision. I found landscapes to be the primary subject of interest to me, although I also like to explore other forms of movement through space, public art, installation, and assemblage. These artforms feel like they all create a “weavery” of understanding. I believe that in the alchemy of colour there exists a key, I aim to explore and unearth this understanding in my own words.
Where are you from? What is your educational background?
I went to various art institutions in Australia. What I was pursuing was not the passion but the practice, and although there is a dense tapestry of understanding to the development of my practice, I am essentially primal in my approach. Through a craving for technique and knowledge, I worked with Charlie Sheard, who was practicing the techniques of old masters and is one of Sydney’s most well known and respected abstract painters. It was through an understanding of colour theory and mixing that I found my passion for ‘alchemy’, both on the palette and in the surrounding colours.
What attracted you to come to RV as a resident?
I have been interested in Portugal since spending time in South America, forming a connection to the people’s understanding of life and death and their spirited approach to colour as a result. It is through new experience that I thrive, my understanding of the land is translated in colour. I was attracted to RV because I wished to experience a different culture through an exterior lense. It’s inspirational, to be in the mountains and begin to understand my place better in relation to my shifting surroundings, both within those environments and reflecting back to the viewer as a projected image.
What project are you working on?
I’m putting together a visual interpretation of my experience here at RV. A series of mainly landscape paintings. Aiming to develop my understanding of light-play and colour, expressing form and feel, here in Portugal. To entice emotion through movement and form. This process will be recorded via painting, sketch, poetry, film, installation and recorded digitally. In collaboration with fellow Australian artist Yuri Nezovic, filmmaker, my body of work will be documented in such a way that will emphasize a multi-faceted tunneling into the mountainous terrain here, wonderful people and the deep connection to the land. the basis of this project is catharsis through creativity.
What is your favourite part of RV?
Being in a place with rich history. RV was originally a school, a building of learning with the divided gender creating a dense tapestry for creative practices. The disparity between time that is created coming from a young island colony to an ancient town with a changing familiar landscape. The people here have been very inspiring – the interactions deep and heartfelt. The landscape too is constantly opening up and revealing itself to me more, and as such, this catharsis through artistic practice integrates as a whole, with the landscape and its people.