Tomas Harker studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Leeds Arts University, he is currently studying for an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art and is a winner of the 2018 Ingram Collection Purchase Prize.

What did you enjoy about the course and how did the course help you in starting out after graduation?

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, Hug, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 50x60cm, courtesy of the artist.

Can you tell us a little about your practice?

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.

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

So far, I have 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.

You have recently been announced as a winner of the 2018 Ingram Collection purchase prize, can you tell us more?

The Ingram Collection Prize is awarded to fine artists who have graduated within the past three years. The finalists’ exhibition is currently on at the Cello Factory. They award a prize for painting and for sculpture each year. Three winners were announced on Wednesday 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.

Any plans for the future?

I have a few exhibitions in the pipeline. My flat is behind a new gallery on Battersea high street. My landlord Justin Cook is also the gallery owner. We are planning a show of my paintings for next year and my RCA interim show in coming up also in January. Other than that, I’m planning my dissertation and just enjoying developing my painting. Long term, I plan on staying in London and getting a studio here for at least a few years.