Thoughts On: Thomas Rodgers 'Home'

 All the images in this post are by the artist Thomas Rodgers creative copyright remains with him. You can see more of his work on his website here:

The Edinburgh College of Art (now subsumed into the behemoth that is The University of Edinburgh) is right round the corner from my day job so The Masters Degree Show which ran from 15th to 22nd August was a great opportunity to inject a bit of culture and inspiration into my day. 

Spread out over both the old Main Building and the modern Evolution House, covering many disciplines from glass-making and animation to sculpture and painting, there was a lot of work to get round but I managed to eschew the call of the sun and the festival to visit most of the show over three separate lunchtimes. 

The work which stood out to me the most is by an artist called Thomas Rodgers and is titled Home. In the context of the masters show, Home was set in contrast to two other artists: one abstract Oil Painter and one Sculptor in a large white room in the Main Building. 

As soon as I set my eyes upon the first of the images, I was immediately drawn to them. Each image itself, the focus and composition exactingly chosen, poised and balancing delicately in-between light and dark with their soft, sensual textures whispering gently in your ear speak of moments quiet and private. The photographs were so perfect, so finely tuned, I felt like I was no longer looking through my own eyes, but the eyes of the artist. And really, really seeing what he was seeing. Less concerned with depicting something literally and seemingly more about the shape, light and abstraction, Rodger's photographs say it all, without having to say anything at all. 

The artist himself was not at the exhibition or I would have grilled him on the exact details of his process, but one of the invigilators said he worked on film. Which, on examining the end product is easily deducible from the tangible viscerality of the photographs. You just can't replicate that digitally. Framed in rough mount-board and simple black wood behind glass with a further selection exquisitely printed onto high quality A2 sheets in an open box on a plinth, the presentation reflected a rougher side to the process of working on film. His work chimed strongly with me and what I have been pursuing in my own abstract photography - some of which is available to view on my tumblr here.

On reading Rodger's explanation and reasoning behind this project, found on his website, I can start to see why I was so deeply touched by this work. The glimpses of life that he is portraying are not necessarily linked in obvious fact to anyone in particular - in the way that an obnoxious Instagram or Facebook image says: look what I am doing/how great my life is. These are small, every day cut-outs of scenes which we all encounter on a day-by-day basis: a table-lamp, a mirror, a pile of papers on a desk, an abandoned mug of cold tea, a pattern of light on the floor.. A sense of home as only you, who live in your home, that space which is truly yours, taking the time in it's quietest most intimate moments, see it. The house's littlest hidden corners and pockets, the way the moods subtly change depending on the casting of the shadows which shift through the day. 

As someone who has lived many different houses and flats in my life, I never fully feel like I have inhabited a space or that it is truly home until I have sat in every corner, seen every angle a room has to offer, shifted the furniture several times, even slept in the lounge room. I like to see my home at every hour of the day, see every small inch for itself. Sometimes I like to remind myself of the smallest corners of places I have lived. This is especially true of the house I grew up in, where I would spend hours admiring the way that the rising sun, slipping over the extension would throw such vibrant orange-golden triangles of powerful light onto the wall next to the window in my bedroom. Or the way that the North-facing front rooms of the house never saw direct sunlight, and so stayed forever in this pale-grey cloak, the passing of time and daylight a distant thing. I think of the ignored spaces that perhaps only I took the time to sit and stare at, hour after hour marking the changes. How many times, and how long would I lie upon the couch tracing the cracks in the ceiling, thinking of the collected dust in the cornicing, wondering about who lived in the house before me, and who would come after. A towel is thrown here, an open book or magazine left there. Who is here except you to witness these myriads of composition?

Coming as I do from studying design based subjects I am often struck by how differently I feel when viewing fine art in comparison to the discipline I finally chose to study: Illustration. Often when I go to view an Illustrator's work though, it doesn't quite chime with me the way that I feel it ought to. I look around and I wonder why I can't see the kind of work that I want to make, I don't see the images that I want to see (of course, it is because I should be making them myself!). But purer art forms have always made more sense to me and moved me in a more profound way to my chosen discipline. Now more than ever I am determined to find a way to bridge that line between design and art, to cosy myself up into the fine art and image-based side of Illustration and thankfully I am finding more and more to inspire me along the way. 

Seeing Rodger's work galvanises my dedication to these little spaces as I wander around the home I live in now, seeing the fantastic sunlit beams which throw themselves upon the floor of our South-facing living room, the beauty of the patterns created by the old glass windows on the wall of the kitchen or the accidental Camera Obscura in my room. Some of them I have begun to capture already and seeing an artist who has focused himself on these corners and produced such stunning, sensual works inspires me to continue pursuing this line of exploration.

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