Tom Oldham

As Tom Oldham’s one of London’s hottest photographers, there’s a very high chance that you’ve seen one of his portraits of the likes of Usain Bolt, Grimes, Dave Grohl, Richard Branson, M.I.A., Sir Bradley Wiggins, Nick Cave and many more. As well as those portraits he often does the most interesting personal projects – he’s got two new ones on the horizon, including an exhibition at the G.F Show Space that’s opening this week. You should totally go see it.

Hey Tom, how’s it going? 
Who can ever really say Josh? I feel like 2018 is favouring me currently but you know the artist’s whim.

What grand adventures have you been up to? 
I went to Antigua with UB40 in December and considered immediate retirement as that’s a 2 for 1, stone-cold life goal achieved right there. I went to West Bengal in India shooting portraits with Practical Action last week, so it hasn’t been at all shitty I have to say.

You’re always on the go… What are you shooting on nowadays? 
A Hasselblad H6D-100c. Is that what you meant? It’s the best camera in the world, you should see the joy on the retouchers little faces.

Tell me about this exhibition that’s opening this week… 
My friend John Singleton is a Crossfit coach and I kept seeing his posts on The ‘Gram and became curious. He was always in Iceland and explained that for some reason, Icelanders can go way harder than any other nations in the sport of Crossfit. I said there has to be a correlation between the long winters, brutal landscape and the effects on these on the athletes. He said come see. Eldmodur (old Icelandic for ’the fire within’) investigates this, and we’re exhibiting the results with G.F Smith in their Show Space from Feb 15th. You should come mate.

Well I will… and now tell me about your Palm Tree project.
I love the Palm Tree. It’s this formerly commonplace, now incredibly unique, boozer in Bow that has had jazz singers perform every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for 40 years. I know them well and asked if it was time to start documenting the place and the singers. Happily they agreed and the project has become known as The Last of The Crooners (see pic above). It’s really beautiful and is as much a celebration of time’s ever shifting sands as it is a marking of the wonder of these very talented folk. It’s going to be like an East End Buena Vista Social Club, without the cigars. We’ve recorded an LP of the live pub performances for the project and if you’re the lucky kind you might get one of a mere 300 copies. Imagine that!

What’s the most bizarre pose you’ve ever gotten a musician/athlete/personality into? 
I once photographed Tim Westwood in a shopping trolley. I couldn’t believe he’d do it, but in he got. I was really disappointed to be honest, both in myself and him.

Where can we see more of your work?
Come see Eldmodur at G.F Smith from Feb 14th – 28th or at the Palm Tree in late April, why don’t you? Two bites of that cherry should be ample.

Interview: Josh Jones
Photo: Tom Medwell


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