Tom Bevan

Visual Arts

Tom Bevan was born in Belfast in 1946. In 1972 Began working in commercial potteries in the Channel Islands, later switching to mixed media assemblage in the 1980s. Since 2000 he has been living and working in New York City.

I make assemblage sculpture, often using found objects. I am not moved by the idea that such objects retain a psychic memory of where they were found and what occurred at that place, but objects always feel important to me. I did not choose “The Troubles” as an interesting subject for my art but instead I instinctively responded in my work to the environment that surrounded me and which I took in, as in the phrase, “you are what you eat”. I was affected by the general sense of disturbance even though I lived in a quiet area and had almost no direct experience of the many tragic events that occurred.Like many other people I made the point of catching the news throughout the day and sometimes when I made a sculpture that dealt with reported incidents I was able to go to the scene and gather objects to use. Usually I wouldn’t go until a few days had passed, not wanting to gawp, as Belfast people might put it. I made my work in this way for maybe 10 years and only stopped, and suddenly stopped, when awarded a one year residency at PS1 Museum in New York City. The influencing environment was wholly different.

I have lived and worked in America for much of the period 1993 until now (2009). Before the attack on New York of 9/11/2001 I had sometimes talked with Americans about Northern Ireland, mainly in relation to the Israeli/Palestinian problem, mentioning parallels to be drawn and lessons to be learned. “Demonizing the Enemy”, I might say and “The politics of the last atrocity”, but no one was interested the subject had no personal relevance. Now, after the 9/11 and a more clear understanding that the long unresolved torment of the Israeli/Palestinian situation remains a poisonous influence on the entire area, the effort to achieve peace between the politically and culturally opposed “two tribes” of Northern Ireland through dialogue, compromise and economic development, is now studied as an example that gives some suggestions as to the way forward, slow and arduous thought it may be.

Selected writings about Tom Bevan:

1986 Catalogue of Exhibition, “Directions Out” Brian McAvera
1989 “Art, Politics & Ireland”, Brian McAvera
1991 Article, “Artfocus” #18 Down District Council
1991 Review - Liverpool Daily Post, Adrian Henri (Feb)
1993 Catalogue of Exhibition, Tom Bevan (ACNI)
1993 Review - “Fortnight” magazine, Sheila Hamilton (May)
1994 Article, The Sunday Times. Gavin Weston (May)
1998 Article, “Sculpture” magazine. Brian McAvera (Jan)
2005 Article, “Irish Arts Review”, Rachel Hewson (Winter)
2006 Book, “Icons of the North”, Brian McAvera. Gt Gallery (Jan)