image & test by Kerrie Pacholli
St Kilda Artist Thomas J. Barker-Webb, also professionally known as Tommy Langra and Tomb was born into a loving home where formal education mattered.
At the age of 4, upon reading a library book introduced to him by his mother referencing the mystical powers of Buddhist meditation Tom became hooked on the world of the unseen. From that point he continues to be a voracious reader and his quest for knowledge and inspiration remain paramount.
By the age of 8 he is reading books assigned to 20 year olds. Needless to say the authorities determined that Tomb, as he would sign his Art from an early age, was deemed an above average intelligence.
With the support of his loving family, his diet of books, his formal education at Scotch College, Geelong Grammar and Deakin University where Tom completed a Masters Degree in Architecture, he was earmarked for ‘old school’ success. After working as a draftsman in tandem with his studies and then professionally for 4 years after graduation a total of 10 years, Tom was advancing in his professional popularity and his 6 figure career.
Some would call it self-sabotage, others would call it artistic liberation that a number of years ago Thomas decided to live the road less travelled and leave his Architectural career to be the quintessential grass roots, street artist / vendor. A lifestyle, from my view, that is not for the faint hearted.
After such an investment in your Architectual career why did you put it on the back burner?
I simply didn’t have the energy to work on all the creative agenda that I had set myself. The more I was surrounded by regular office culture, I invested less in my productive self, and the more I behaved like a regular 9-5er.
I simply couldn’t face being in front of a computer day in day out. I had become an architect in order to draw – with a set of manual tools, the industry doesn’t support that as much as it used to.
Tell us what you love about your current lifestyle and artistic expression?
Whenever I think ‘oh maybe I should get a desk job and earn some money’ I look at what I’m doing and I can’t help myself but pick up my drawing utensil and keep going.
It’s extreme; it’s exhausting, mentally and physically and I love that, it tests my capacity as an individual to the limits. I draw non-stop all day in all weather conditions from gale force winds to 45+ degree days. What I work on is as important if not more than how I would work in professional practice. It requires all the same problem solving skills – and more because of the conditions!
How does your robust formal education assist you on your current journey?
Good question. I apply all my studies to the task: from research and essay writing, to woodwork, to physics, to architectural contracts.
At the end of the day, what we produce is only a display of our own conceptual understanding. Our desires and our distastes: the effort and patience, the diligence that we apply ourselves to them. The more that we nourish them and test them, the wealthier, richer and more resilient the outcome, both to our own selves yet also to the questioning minds of others.
The better the sources that we rely on, the less arguable is the notion, as the soil that nourished; has stood firm through human history.
“An educated person’s ideas of Art are drawn naturally from what Art has been, whereas the new work of art is beautiful by being what Art has never been… A temperament capable of receiving, through an imaginative medium, and under imaginative conditions, new and beautiful impressions, is the only temperament that can appreciate a work of art.” Oscar Wilde
Every day except Sunday Tommy Langra of ArchAngle Studios rides his self modified bike and homemade draftsman cart from St Kilda to his current post at the front of Hamer Hall at the Art Centre.
You will also have the opportunity to meet this extraordinary artist at Punchinello Pop Up 33 Fitzroy Street during this forthcoming St Kilda Art Crawl on the 25, 26, 27 May 2018. Stay tuned…