Art - Tom Walker’s The Magician’s House 2

Between 1986 and 1996,Tom Walker created many works inspired by the music of the French organ composer Charles Tournemire. “Tournemire was a superb organist, and a prolific one, and when I first heard his work I fell in love with it, and needed to find out more,” he tells me. “He wrote a cycle of 51 organ masses: L’Orgue Mystique, covering all the Sundays and festival days in the liturgical year. Between 1986 and 1990 I produced 51 triptychs, each representing one of his masses. They were exhibited, along with his music, across Europe and in the USA. After he died, in 1939, Tournemire was virtually forgotten. I got involved in a global movement to get him, if you like, disinterred. We were very successful. You can now buy all his works on CD.”

After 1990, Walker continued working with Tournemire’s music creating paintings - almost all pastel on black paper. His choice of materials was not haphazard: ‘one of the major themes of Tournemire’s work was creating light out of darkness, and that’s what happens when you apply colours to black paper.’

By 1996, Walker had stopped visualising the musician’s pieces. “Tournemire was known as a great improviser,” he says. “He could captivate audiences by playing what came into his head. And this became another influence on me. I decided to start improvising, too. I put my paper on the easel and started work without any conscious preconception of what I was doing.”


Immaculate Conception by Tom Walker (detail)