The art of celebrating industry
Artist Tom French, Wilton Centre Manager Dave Willis, Bill Perfitt, Director of Public Affairs for SABIC
The industrial landscape in which The Wilton Centre stands has proved the inspiration for artist Tom French for many years.
A former engineer, the 63-year-old began his working life as an apprentice fitter at Cargo Fleet ironworks before moving into the oil industry.
Having spent three decades travelling the world as a consultant engineer, he is now retired and the Centre has been hosting the first ever exhibition of the paintings and drawings to which he now devotes his time.
Among places he has painted are the cooling towers at Wilton, the South Bank coke ovens and Redcar blast furnace.
He said: "I love this area and the industry and feel very passionate about it. I hope that comes through in my paintings."
Tom, from Normanby, had no formal art tuition but was inspired to pick up a brush after reading a biography of sculptor August Rodin, loaned to him by fellow shiftworker Jim Mulholland. He was then encouraged over the years by Jim’s son, renowned artist David Mulholland.
Dave Willis, Wilton Centre Manager, said: "Tom has produced a huge and varied collection over the past few years and we hope that we have helped by providing an appropriate environment in which he can showcase his art. The backdrop couldn’t be better."