Born in Newbiggen-by-the-Sea, Northumberland in 1944, the daughter of a coastguard, I spent my childhood living on various Islands and cliff tops around the coast of Britain: Walney Island in the Irish Sea, Wyke Regis & Portland Isle in Dorset, Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, and Totland, Isle of Wight. Growing up always within sight and sound of the sea has contributed to shaping my inner life and the sea and shore is the motif to which I have returned again and again during decades of earning a living as a visual artist. I left school in the Hebrides aged 14 and had no formal art education.
Tracts of time spent in London scouring the galleries, devouring art books and drawing in the life studio at the City and Guilds of London Art College. Back on the Island I studied portrait painting with Victor Voysey, RA at his studio in Ryde, and painted and exhibited in and around the West Wight wherever there was a blank wall to hang on, establishing my first, Studio Gallery, in Freshwater in 1969 in what was the WH Smiths kiosk by the old railway station. Showed 2 paintings at the Mall Galleries in London.
Solo shows in Island galleries and in London (Barettas & Embankment Gallery). Also exhibited at various off beat venues around the Isle of Wight including building sites and disused buildings. These were experimental times and I created an installation ‘Woman into Landscape’ that involved constructing a kitchen complete with sink and washing line hung with nappies and exotic underwear (many years before the advent of Tracy Emin!). This was recreated at each of the three library galleries newly created at that time on the Isle of Wight. Illustrated, Lovers’ Gift, a collection of prose and poetry by Rabindranath Tagore, published by Isla Magenta. Moved around various temporary studio galleries that I established in Yarmouth before settling in, Studio on the Quay, facing Yarmouth Harbour. Combined painting and exhibiting with teaching adult leisure painter courses for the Isle of Wight College.
Taught art at HMP Albany and HMP Camp Hill. At HMP Albany, worked with a group of inmates on an Egyptian theme mural for the education wing and alongside Colin Riches in his ground breaking Arts and Crafts Studio, which offered Art College facilities for full time study within Albany Prison. Alongside this I shared ‘Studio on the Quay’ in Yarmouth with potter Wendy Franklin, exhibiting small scale land and seascapes, mostly painted en-situ within walking distance of Mill Creek Cottage, on the river at Yarmouth, where I was living. Spent time at Greenham Common and completed a number of small scale paintings celebrating that experience. Completed the ‘Four Seasons’ panels and other public art commissions for NHS, Art in Hospitals Project. Taught adult students (IW College). Open Studio at Mill Creek Cottage as part of the IW Arts Festival Fringe.
Became involved with the Quay Arts Centre, Newport, eventually taking on the role of Artistic Director, and working with Chairman, Guy Eades and Company Secretary, Jeremy Coatsworth to transform the buildings, securing a National Lottery grant to create the Anthony Minghella Studio Theatre, establishing the Sea Street Craft Shop and acquiring additional warehouses, including the Rope Store and Jubilee Stores. Raised funds for and helped create the ‘Moving on in the Arts’ Island wide community arts project with IWC and Healing Arts. After leaving QA in 1997, set up the Alchemist Gallery, in Foresters Hall, Yarmouth along with ceramics artists Amanda & Seijii Yoshida and photographer John Cleave. During this decade I also completed a number of large scale public art commissions for the NHS in Southampton, Winchester, Birmingham and Isle of Wight.
Completed commissions for the National Trust, including wildlife illustration panels and mural for the hide and education centre at Newtown, the Needles Battery, and Priory Bay, IW. Exhibited domestic scale canvases in solo show ‘In Search of Gold’ at the Alchemist Gallery (2004) in which I experimented with the use of gold leaf and incorporated text. Opened ‘Anne Toms Yarmouth Gallery’ on ground floor of Foresters Hall (2005). Examples of my public art work are illustrated in the Public Catalogue Foundation’s, Oil Paintings in Public Ownership, Hampshire, Southampton & the Isle of Wight edition, published in 2007
Examples of my public art works are included in the BBC ‘Your Art’ website: www.bbc.org/yourart/artists/annetoms
Working from my Freshwater Bay studio, and showing my paintings primarily in a rolling exhibition at Yarmouth Gallery and participating in Isle of Wight open studios event in July each year.
Royal Society, Mall Galleries, London
Mountbatten Galleries, Isle of Wight
The Embankment Gallery, SS. Tattersall Castle, On the Thames, London
Barrettas, Holborn, London
Studio on the Quay, Yarmouth
Quay Arts, Isle of Wight
Alchemist Gallery, Yarmouth
The Yarmouth Gallery
The Cowes Gallery
The New Forest Gallery
(One woman shows and installations at various unusual, informal venues around the island and occasionally in London throughout my working life as part of a personal commitment to bring art out of the gallery into the community)
Public Art Commissions:
‘West Island’ framed oil on canvas, for entrance to Brookside Health Centre, IW. (Art in Hospitals)
‘Early Summer, Headon Warren’ small oil painting for the refurbished foyer, Tennyson Memorial Hall, Freshwater, IW (West Wight Arts)
Summer Meadows’ wall painting for St. Mary’s North Hospital (Art in Hospitals)
‘The Legend of St. Catherine’ wall painting for St. Catherine’s Ward St. Mary’s Hospital (Art in Hospitals)
‘Four Seasons’ panels for Rookwood Ward, Old Hospital St. Mary’s, IW (Art in Hospitals)
‘The Totland Quartet’ 4 panels 4’x8’ for Totland Ward, Old Hospital, St. Mary’s, IW. (Art in Hospitals)
‘Paradise Island’ 80 metre mural and play sculpt for the Children’s Unit St. Mary’s Hospital, IW (Healing Arts, IW)
‘Italian Dream’ mural for the water gardens at Butterfly World, Ashey, IW.
‘Water Gardens Triptych’ and other wall panels, Winchester Hospital (Wessex Health)
‘Reed Beds’, suite of 12, 4ft sq. panels, Southampton General Hospital
‘Winter Sun Rising’, 8’x4’ panel, Southampton General Hospital
‘Monday Morning’ 8’x4’ panel, Maternity Unit Southampton General Hospital
‘Hard Pressed’ acrylic panel for psychiatric unit Birmingham Hospital
‘Life Cycle of Swans’ decorative frieze for Intensive Care Unit, St. Mary’s Hospital, IW (Healing Arts IW)
‘River Tales’ (inspired by Wind in the Willows), panels, murals & cameos for the Children’s Unit, Southampton General Hospital
‘Lazy Summer’s Day’ ceiling panel over the body scanner, St. Mary’s Hospital, IW (Healing Arts, IW)
‘Dragonfly, Kingfisher, Lily” roundel for the Imaging Unit, St. Mary’s Hospital (Healing Arts, IW)
‘Blackthorn Blossom’, oil on canvas approx 9’x12’, Chapel of Rest, St. Mary’s Hospital, IW (Healing Arts, IW)
‘Newtown Nature Reserve’ mural for the new, National Trust Visitors Centre, Newtown, IW. (National Trust)
5 Recognition Panels & Feeding Habits panel for Newtown Nature Reserve Hide (National Trust).
2 ‘Wildlife to Look For’ panels for the Observation Room at Needles Battery, (National Trust).
Orientation panel for Priory Bay beach. (National Trust)
Decorative Panel for Mottistone Church Yard
Suite of 9 oil paintings ‘Portrait of the Downs & Shoreline between Chale and Freshwater Bay, (Healing Arts)
Many of these commissioned pieces have been re-located over time and I have not kept track of all the moves