Brewery Arts Centre

Tom Harforth

Tom Harforth: Structure of Decay | Sat 20 May - Sat 22 Jul

Intro Bar Gallery plus five installation pieces sited throughout the Centre

Old Brewery Series (Sited throughout the Arts Centre)

This series of work is set around the journey which the Brewery Arts Centre’s buildings have undergone and been recorded over the past 40 years. The imagery is from the Brewery’s own photographic archive. I have taken a range of architectural images, those of which are appropriate to my practice of depicting the urban decay of structures. I have then developed a process by exploring with the senses, in particular with the textures to produce this group of one-off, sculptural screen prints.

The way in which the prints have been constructed is to emulate the idea of fermentation.  The backgrounds are created by hand printed organic textures to give the sense of soaked and stained paper, evoking a feel of ageing to the imagery and also reflecting the brewing process. The foreground composition itself has been reduced from the original photographs to give emphasis to the fragility of the structure, this layer is screen-printed with a warm mix of greys and browns to create a resemblance of the industrial era from the building’s former life. The curved frame presentation is to echo the form of the vats and barrels indicative of a brewery as well as to enhance further structure to the pieces. The screen prints are then presented in frames made from oak, to be true to the traditional barrel material and construction.

Structure of Decay Series (Intro Bar Gallery)

My practice revolves around urban industrial decay in northern cities, in the case of this work, Sheffield & Salford. I primarily use silkscreen printing to explore the physical processes within this theme. What intrigues me and draws me into this area is the fragility of the textures, presence of the former-functional forms and the colours of industry left behind, coupled with the manmade structure being softened by natural weed and detritus and layers of the past.

The way I construct my work starts initially with photography, I use this as a sketching tool to test out composition and style, from these photographs I produce silkscreen prints onto fitting papers such as Japanese Washi, wax, tissue and the reverse of old maps. For this project my subjects have been Neepsend in Sheffield & Pendleton in Salford; this is because of the industrial buildings such as the brewery, iron works and other factories which have aspects of reused, adapted and abandoned structures. Once printed I work back into some of the prints before they are dry by dabbing away ink, thus giving a faded washed-out appearance, this is an important part of my work as it is replicating the layers of the buildings that were put there for a purpose but would have since worn away or are barely visible. Along with this I have produced a number of prints which incorporate dust collected at the site of the buildings in the imagery, this is done to create a physical link back to the building, highlighting the idea that the building has had a number of different roles in its life and I am continuing this; also the technique allows for a fragile and ephemeral quality as the imagery of the piece literally decays.


Another part of my practice are artists’ books and with this project I have combined the two by producing a diptych of limited edition books that present the prints in an alternative format, the reason behind this is to give the sense that the work is not permanent and is delicate and therefore has had to be preserved and viewed through the format of a book. The way in which I have compiled the layout of the books is to pair images together which contrast and complement each other, there are breaks and solitary images to give a natural impression of weathered, worn and decayed buildings and sense of abandonment, thus allowing the viewer space to think. The books are autonomous works and although presented along with the prints and boards, can exist alone as multiples, and exhibited outside of the gallery.

About the Artist

Tom Harforth graduated from the UCLan Fine Art programme with a 1st Class Honours Degree in summer 2016 and has a studio in South Lakeland. The work exhibited is a combination of his degree show work and newly created pieces for the Brewery Arts Centre, all revolving around urban structures, decay and deterioration of the buildings and their surfaces.

 ‘I am an artist printmaker who predominantly works with screen-printing and collage, my subject matter revolves around the decaying urban landscape particularly northern industrial buildings. Through my work I focus on the fragile, weathered and ageing characteristics of abandoned structures. I work with scale and composition, often in contrasting modes; this is to affirm the feel and impact from the original locations. I experiment with a wide range of surfaces on which I print, primarily using papers such as Washi, old maps and sugar paper. In recent projects I have collected dust from my source locations and have then applied it to my prints, bringing a physical element of decay to my pieces. Presenting my work is an area in which I use a variety of mechanisms from within archival drawers, artist books, to sculptural wall arrangements. With my practice I am pushing the traditional forms of printmaking and trying to test new approaches, while trying to keep the manual and analogue essence of printmaking.’

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Previous Exhibitions-

Remnants, Hanover Project, Preston, 2017

It Shouldn’t Really Work, Abingdon Studios, Blackpool, 2016

The Bones of It, DS16 Degree Show UCLan, Preston, 2016

SeaCourt Mini Print Biennial, Bangor, 2016

The Haworth Prize (New English Art Club Annual Open Exhibition), Mall Galleries, London, 2015

20-20 Print Exchange Exhibitions, National, 2014/15

Lessness, Hanover Gallery, Preston, 2015


Venue: Intro Bar