Thursday, 26 June 2008

Tom Payne - "The Grunts"

Tom Payne graduated from the Kent Institute of art and design in 2000 and has gone on to become a successful self employed sculptor and model maker. His sculptures are generally figurative based and built using coiling techniques in high-grog crank clay.

He says “I concentrate on poise and character rather than realism but like my figure to be easily recognisable and relatable too. My finishing is normally quite rough as I like to show the surface and making-marks such as fingerprints.” Each ‘Grunt’, as Tom calls them, are one-off pieces, however they exist in themes and groupings.

The clay is first rolled into a sausage, making sure each one is roughly the same standing height, before being chopped and bent into their required seated, crouching or standing position. The details are then sculptured into the clay creating the basic shape of the figure together with the posture and hand gestures before further detailing including trouser folds and muscle tone is added. When the sculpture is complete and firing has taken place, the pieces are then quickly smoke-fired with wood chips to a very low temperature which gives the desired finished result.

A finished Grunt can quite happily stand or sit there on his own, but the best visual effect is experienced when they are placed into a group. This gives a fantastic and sometimes quite comical impression that some kind of conversation or debate is taking place between the Grunts.

Tom’s work has been displayed all over the UK as well as being involved in several high profile public art projects since graduating. Most notable of these projects include Tom helping in the construction of the site for ‘Dino Dig’ at the Natural History Museum in 2006. Tom was commissioned to create lifelike clay dinosaur bones that were to be buried in sand, ready for children to excavate during an exhibition at the Museum.

Prior to that In 2005, Tom was commissioned by a recruitment marketing company to make models for the ultimate 'People Brand' at the AHHRM Awards (Association of Healthcare Human Resource Management). The campaign was to brand Whipps Cross University Hospital in London as a Trust that has an exciting future ahead and recognises that their biggest asset going forward is their people.

Models were created based on real-life employees, one from every department within the hospital. Images of Tom’s sculptures were used for advertising posters that were displayed on London buses and taxis, in brochures and on the web. The campaign was well received both internally and externally including helping to win the 'Best Employer Brand' Award itself.

Tom was also involved in an environmental advertising campaign that was aired on MTV in 2007. He was asked to create a Polar Bear mould to be used as an animation for the television adverts aired on the channel through Spring of that year.

The sculptures by Tom Payne are on show for the first time in Scotland at Artery Gallery in both St Andrews and Crieff, and can also be viewed online at

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