“My work combines my two great loves: wood and wildlife. It is all about mimicking the beauty of the natural world by using its natural resources. You don’t need paints, stains or dyes when nature has given you all those beautiful colours and grains. Wood is my palette, like an artist would have a palette of paints - the rich chocolate brown of wenge, the blood red of padauk, the pale gold of tree of heaven ..."
Tom was an outdoorsy child who spent his formative years mud-speckled, armed with an empty jam jar and binoculars, impersonating his idol – David Attenborough. But one weekend when the weather put paid to our intrepid 12 year old adventurer’s expeditions into the wilds of rural Nottinghamshire, he armed himself with an old shelf, raided his father’s tool box, and started experimenting. Woodworking – specifically the ancient technique of intarsia – soon become a serious hobby, via which Tom began to capture the natural world, immortalising in wood the sights of his adventures.
T.A.G. (aka Tom) Smith
Over the years, Tom developed his own unique style of woodworking, which combines colour, grain, texture and undulation to create life-like, life-sized sculptures. Upon leaving school, demand for his work was such that he became a full-time artist. Within a year, with commissions flying in and the ever-increasing weight of more sophisticated machinery threatening to plunge the workshop he had made of his parents’ attic into their bedroom beneath, larger, less lofty premises were required. Tom found the perfect spot in a spacious, light-filled former textiles factory in Gotham, Nottinghamshire.
While the subject matter of Tom’s work is diverse – he sculpts all manner of creatures, both wild and domestic, sentient and non – birds of prey and their plumage are his speciality. “I think birds picked me really. There is something about them that has always spoken to people, and, once you’ve heard it, you cannot ignore it. There is just something so poetic about them, their freedom, and their motion. They are just exquisite feats of engineering.”
Tom’s work has been featured in a number of national publications, including The Art of Design, Craft & Design, The Woodworker, Shooting Gazette, Fieldsports Magazine, as well as in a nerve-wracking live interview on The 6.30 Show on NOTTS TV. His life-sized sculpture of a Red Kite in flight was also included in the catalogue for the prestigious David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation Wildlife Artist of the Year 2014, but, for Tom, perhaps the greatest accolade is knowing that one of his barn owl feather sculptures is displayed in David Attenborough’s home. Various pieces of Tom’s work are available to view and purchase at ARTifex Gallery (Birmingham), Erwood Station Gallery (Powys), The Fox Den (Bournemouth), The Marle Gallery (Devon), Dansel Gallery (Dorset), and Heart Gallery (West Yorkshire).
Please do contact Tom if you have any enquires about his work or would like to discuss a commission. He’s really a very friendly chap underneath all that hair.