It’s time to point out here that his work is quite brilliant. And that every painting in the exhibition - whether it’s a landscape with pregnant sky, a livid seascape, or an eerie forest scene - conveys a different mood more eloquently than any words could. Tom returns time and time again to a place that he has chosen, picks his spot for the day, sits down with his canvas and easel, and paints it. He favours certain areas, which he will frequent for a period of time - around Plumpton, Hope Gap near Cuckmere Haven, the Ouse Valley between Rodmell and Southease, a willow plantation north of the Ashdown Forest. “I get to know the areas very well; every time I go back it’s like adding a layer to my knowledge of the place. Sometimes I am struck by something that I get an emotional response from. I will try to paint it, on the spot. It is impossible to capture the moment - I’m not taking photographs. I’m trying to quickly respond to a world in flux. It’s a continuous process of reproducing, improvising and altering my response. I am always surprised by what comes out.”

I ask him to take me through one of the paintings, and he takes me to a large landscape format piece called ‘Cricket Bat Willows’. “This is in a field near Hartfield I discovered one day when I was out walking with my family,” he says. “I was taken by the regimented nature of the trees, which reminded me of the way a lot of trees are in France. But then there was all the cow-parsley in between the trees, which was so wild. The combination of order and naturalness caught my imagination.”



Tom Benjamin “If it’s a clear blue sky I tend to paint in the woods”