Water world

Doha resident Tommie Teasdale unveils his latest exhibition this month. The theme of water features heavily, but we wanted to know why

Water world
Water world Image #2
Water world Image #3

Tommi Teasdale was born in Scarborough, England, and has been painting since he was five years old. Growing up by the sea, he has since lived in Mexico City and Shanghai, but now resides in Doha, where he said it was the lure of living by the sea once again that brought him here. It’s no wonder water is such a prominent theme in his latest exhibition, which is being unveiled this month. ‘The exhibition is based primarily on the aesthetics of water and the part it has played in my childhood and on my travels,’ he reveals. ‘There are four seascapes, four “rainy days in Shanghai” images, a picture from Venice and currently two or three Souk Waqif pictures from Doha. The techniques span oil washes, pallet knife application and brush itself. All oil on canvas.’

The exhibition will be shown at Tommi’s friend Kattie Hutchinson’s villa. It will be the third time he has exhibited there, and is free to all, and Tommi says that these works will be a departure for him. ‘This exhibition differs from the others in the fact that the images are not based around a single subject matter,’ Tommi reveals, ‘but rather simply images I have wanted to paint for some time and that appeal to me. This is a far more hedonistic exhibition.’

And the subject of water is something that has been around for a long time. ‘My father was a seascape painter,’ says Tommi. ‘I would watch him when I was very young. I had no idea how he did it. I was fascinated from a very early age. Now my fascination is different, but it is still fascination.’

It was by watching his father, as he worked with the paints, that Tommi developed his interest in art. ‘I grew up painting in watercolour,’ he says. ‘It is the most unforgiving of mediums and taught me a great deal about light. I have worked in all different mediums, but have for the last 10 years worked almost exclusively in oils. I have no particular style and I just let the images suggest something to me.’

Tommi elaborates on his painting further: ‘When I paint commissioned work, the painting act becomes a discipline for me. It is when I feel I most improve as an artist. I must try to find the story behind the image, find it and express it to the best of my ability. I have a very eclectic approach to most art forms and it is the same with my painting. I do not adhere to one style. More important to me it is what the original image reveals to me when I am thinking of representing it or ideas based on it in oils. I will often have a collection of images lying around for a long time and then I will see something within them that was not apparent immediately. I often take small parts of a large image as a start point, and I will paint more than one picture at a time. This is a strange way of painting, but I feel that they will often suggest things to each other
as I revolve around them.’

And Qatar itself is also proving to be a suitable muse: ‘When I came here I was immediately struck by a sense of light. Subject matter is of no importance to me if the light has nothing to say about it. After all, we paint and capture light in all forms of visual art. The light that falls on and surrounds the object both defines it and sets its stage. That is what I am interested in.’

From Mexico to Doha, it seems all of these places have added something to Tommi’s art: ‘The places I have lived in have presented me with different ways of looking at the most simple things in different ways. It is this approach that helps me not to just look at something, but to try to be able to find a story behind the obvious. For me, sometimes there isn’t one, sometimes there is.’

When not painting art himself, Tommi is teaching it to children in schools, something he expects will help grow the art scene here. ‘The Qatar art scene like the rest of the country is growing,’ he reflects, ‘and with this rapid development comes a more expansive appreciation of art, not only from Qatar but from other countries. Souk Waqif has a fine example of a gallery which embraces a growing international art market. There are also several smaller independent galleries which support art in its development stage within the country – galleries such as Doha Art Works, who put on independent exhibitions annually and are a vital outlet of this growing cosmopolitan art world here in Qatar.’
These are exciting times for Doha’s art scene indeed, and if you want to find out more then make sure you drop into Tommi’s watery exhibition later this month. The exhibition is hosted by Kattie Hutchinson (585 2981) at her villa, A24 Al Zuhoor compound, near Villaggio shopping mall, from December 9-16, 6.30pm nightly. Entrance is free, by appointment only.

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