I bought a painting by Tom Mallin a little while ago and was lucky enough to be able to track down his son to ask about his father, as I hadn’t been able to find anything out in the standard sources. I wouldn’t usually go to such lengths, but he still had some of his father’s paintings left from his studio and I was curious to see them. So there was quite a long drive on a wintry day, but I arrived eventually at a very cold, empty factory that had become an artists’ collective. As he showed me his father’s remaining paintings, I was able to ask him about Tom’s life. Born in 1927 he became a picture restorer working mainly on 17th and 18th century paintings before starting to paint for himself in the 1950’s. Because he was used to working on paintings in particular styles, many of his own betray the influence of those he was restoring at the time, but the paintings that stood out for me were those of corners of his home and studio in Suffolk. It is as though his emotional response to his own surroundings freed him from the stylistic restraints of constantly working in the guise of other artists, allowing his own talent to take over. I particularly like this long painting titled ‘Studio Clutter’ (a detail of which is shown here), I always love anything to do with workshops and studios: it has something to do with the working space and the clutter of things that people use, whether tools or brushes… It is as though you can look at the tools and know the person.