Words and photos by Jamie Priesz
Are you having trouble concentrating? Are you finding yourself becoming distracted whilst trying to work?
Tom Ferson Has a show called Intersections that you should definitely go see. It’s a rare thing to see such unwavering drive working on one project for such a long time, but through a complex and time-consuming process of layering and engraving, Tom creates incredibly detailed works that explore the softest aspects of human nature and beauty. A shining bloody example of the work ethic we all need a little slice of. We asked Tom a few questions about his upcoming opening and the documentary that captured it all.
What is the show about, how has it been a new jump forward in your work?
The work in the show explores a few different lines of thought, but the overarching themes are love, sexuality, and intimacy. This show is my most soul-bearing to date, for sure. I wanted to make work that was moving and potentially challenging; to use the processes that I have been developing over the last 10 years or so and to bring them into a much more emotionally charged context. There has been evolution in all aspects of the work: what I’m painting (or engraving), how I’m painting it, the feeling I want to inspire—everything.
How long has it taken you?
I’ve been physically working on the show over the last two years, and most intensely over the last six months, but some of the concepts are years old. I don’t like to pay too much attention to how long everything takes. It can get me down a little. I know I worked on some of the larger pieces over a period of a few months.
Did you always plan to document this process?
I have wanted to properly document the process that goes into the making of my work for a long time, and as time goes on I’ve rolled more and more processes into the production. When I locked down The New Standard Gallery as a space to show before starting all this, I knew I wanted to try a few ambitious concepts, and that this show was the one to document.
How involved have you been in the film side, is working with another creative hard, especially when they are representing you?
The documentary has been a huge undertaking for both me and Alex Botton of Paste Studios. Luckily for me, I have a huge amount of faith in his ability when it comes to film making and anything involving a lens, which made everything easier. Occasionally I would throw ideas at him for shots or locations, but he really had the reins for the most part. He also knows me really rather well by now (for better or worse) and has a very strong idea of what I wanted to communicate with this project and how I wanted to present myself. There were many moments during the interview process where I would get all goofy or just laugh at myself, largely as a result of being so comfortable around him. There was a very active decision to involve a bit of that, because it is the most truthful depiction and gives the project a slightly lighter tone which I think is more relatable.
Can you tell me the story behind the piece with the crow?
In 2014 I spent some time in Israel with an ex. Those few months proved to be the last legs of the relationship with my then-partner, and although they were some of our closest and we were still in love, we parted ways. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
One of the first things I noticed upon my arrival in Israel that really stood out as evidence that I was in another country was the presence of these huge crows—the “Hooded Crow”. I was writing a lot then, and the crows popped up a lot in my writing too. I was vaguely aware of the crow’s historical significance as a bad omen or a symbol of death, so they were never far from me or my mind, hovering as a personal symbol of the inevitable demise of our relationship. Early one morning, I awoke from a nightmare earlier than my partner, and sat and watched her. I stood on the bed, and an image struck me—as they tend to. I imagined circling high above her in her dreams, watching with so much caring, but with the knowledge of the looming end. I was the crow.
The show is opening on Thursday, August 31 at The New Standard Gallery at 263A Riley st Surry Hills.