Tom Harker’s painting addresses the nature of meaning in conditions of mediated experience and hyperreal saturation. His work draws from a variety of image production and distribution systems, including film screen shots, iPhone photos, art history and social media.

Harker studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Leeds Arts University and went on to an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art. He was awarded the 2018 Ingram Collection Purchase Prize. His work was included in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2021.

Third Nature a solo exhibition by Tomas Harker, presented by bo.lee gallery, opens at the Copeland Gallery, London on 3 November until 7 November 2021.

Image: Tomas, Harker, Trois Rois, 140 x 110cm, oil on canvas, 2021.

Image: Tomas Harker, Violas, 150 x 180cm, oil on canvas, 2021. 

In 2018 we caught up with Tom Harker, here he tells us a little about his practise and experience studying: 

Can you tell us a little about your practise?

I make paintings from images usually found online. I am really interested in paint as a physical medium and its possibilities as well as its historical context. I am drawn to images that have an uncanny aspect and the relationship between the image, the values we form and our view of reality.

Could you tell us a little about your experience studying Fine Art at Leeds Arts University?

It was all very enjoyable, particularly working in the shared studio spaces. It was really friendly and supportive. The course helped by allowing the time and space to try things out without the pressures of the outside world. It gave me the time to think about the position I wanted take after I left and to make preparations for that. The critical side of the course was good at encouraging me to be more thorough with this also – thinking back there were some quite harsh times but you appreciate it after. I also met my partner in the final year on the same course, so there’s that too!

Image: Tomas Harker, Obedient, 36 x 51cm, oil on canvas, 2021.

You studied for an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art, how has the experience been?

I loved my time at the Royal College of Art and living in London. I was very keen on studying at RCA so I put everything into the application and was so excited when I got accepted. Because I went straight from Leeds Arts University to RCA it felt like a continuation of my research. There is so much going on in London with art, you have to work out what’s most relevant for you so you don’t get overstretched.

 Image: Tomas Harker, Striped Scarf, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 61x71cm, Ingram Collection, courtesy of the artist.

Do you have any advice for recent graduates thinking of applying for an MA?

My advice would be to have a clear idea of what you want to use the MA for, it is very self-directed so make sure you are ready to use the time wisely. Also look into the cost of the course and living costs so you can budget properly – but definitely don’t let money put you off, if it’s really what you want to do you will find a way. If you are about to start studying for an undergraduate course or are still studying, really make the most of the opportunity and use the freedom to start preparing for what you want to do after, whether that is an MA or something else.

In 2018 you won the prestigious Ingram Collection purchase prize, how was that experience?

The Ingram Collection Prize is awarded to fine artists who have graduated within the past three years. There was the finalists’ exhibition at the Cello Factory. They award a prize for painting and for sculpture each year. Three winners were announced at the opening but I was on a late train back from Brussels with my RCA course.

My friend was there at the opening and sent me a three-second clip of my name being announced as the winner! I was so excited but felt like it was too good to be true, I was just sat there on the Eurostar, replaying the clip over and over to make sure I hadn’t completely misinterpreted it.

I would really recommend applying for the Prize once you graduate. The Ingram Collection purchase your work for the collection but also give a lot of really valuable support.