RNC student creates art to inspire others

Tom stands in the Maths room beside his Rothko-inspired painting, hanging on the wall, which is made up of bright yellow and orange rectangles

Oscar Wilde once said “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life”. At the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), it may be more of a case of ‘art imitating art’ for 18 year old Tom Cawley from Southwark in London. Now in his third year at RNC, Tom studies A Level Art, Media Studies and Extended Project and states “Art is what I’m passionate about, you’re able to choose your preferred medium and do all the research, writing and evaluations around it so you are very independent in your study but help is always there when you need it.”


Whilst looking at post war contemporary artists Tom came across Mark Rothko and became inspired from his days of being taught by RNC Maths Teacher Kate Stevenson. “I remember ages ago Kate had said something about wanting to brighten up the Maths room, when I started looking at Rothko’s work I saw a lot of geometry in there with the rectangular shapes and immediately thought that with the bright colours it would be the perfect piece for the Maths room. It’s not the kind of art I usually do because I am more used to doing portraits but I liked the idea of my art helping to inspire others and I wanted to give back to Kate for all that she has done for me.”


Passing GCSE Maths was a relief from Tom, as he explains “It wasn’t that I couldn’t grasp the concept of it when I was in mainstream school, the difference at RNC is that I have been able to have the course materials I need in the right format for me access.” Tom goes on to say, “Having a teacher like Kate was so helpful because she is good at explaining things and having less people in each class means that the teacher is always available when you have any questions.” After achieving his pass in Maths, Tom presented the artwork to Kate, who said “I wasn’t expecting this from Tom at all; it was a really nice surprise and looks great on the wall in my classroom. I am really proud of Tom, both for creating this stunning painting and for his hard work and achievements in his Maths.”


Tom’s piece is based on Rothko’s ‘Orange, red and yellow’ and this was commended by Kelly Crow from the Wall Street Journal; “The painting’s trio of orange and yellow rectangles bobbing atop a cherry-red background forms a palette that’s as eye-catching as a sunset or a Popsicle.” In May 2012 the Rothko original sold at auction for a staggering $86 million! When asked whether Kate would ever think about selling her Rothko imitation she simply said “Never, Tom’s art is priceless.”


You can read more about studying Art at RNC or view our range of courses


If you have any other queries, please call our student enquiries line on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk


Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC


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