A Buccleugh Fox
Sketch of a fox. Dated top right 1st Feb 1968
About the Artist
Sketches and Papers relating to Tom Carr can be found in BSAT Archive.
Tom Carr was born into a working-class family, the youngest of nine children, in County Durham. He left school at the age of 14 and was employed as a trainee colliery mechanic, working mainly above ground maintaining machinery. Following the hunt was a lifelong passion for Tom and he worked night shifts so that he could follow the hunt during the day. His local hunt was the Braes of Derwent, owned and led by Lewis Priestman, whose family owned profitable coal mines in the region. Priestman built impressive new kennels for a new pack of hounds at Tinkler Hill, near to the Carr family home. Tom had a natural gift and would draw horses and dogs obsessively on any spare bit of newspaper or packaging. He began selling his art work to his immediate circle during the 1930s, including Lewis Priestman and his nephew, Major J L Priestman. Tom Carr met his future wife, Sarah (neé Johnson, known as Sadie) at this time and the couple married in August 1934. She provided the business acumen, organising Tom’s busy diary and keeping the accounts throughout his career. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Carr transferred employment from the coal mine to the other great industry of the north east of England, ship building, but the heavy labour took its toll: Carr suffered a slipped disc and could never work in the colliery or shipyard, or ride a horse, ever again. With Sadie’s encouragement Tom embarked upon a new career as a sporting artist. Because of the wartime injuries he sustained, Tom was fortunately eligible for a Ministry of Education Grant to study fine art full-time at King’s College, Newcastle from 1948 until 1950. King’s College was then part of the University of Durham, which became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1963. He learnt the art of painting en plein air from tutor Lawrence Gowing, paying attention to representing the landscape and sky. Following graduation his career flourished, and Tom was commissioned to paint 60 hunts during his lifetime, and travelled to them all from the family home at Chesters, just over the border from England into Scotland. He also painted the Grand National, beagling, otter hunting, deer stalking and polo matches. He produced a popular series of at least 33 dry point etchings during the 1960s featuring hunting scenes. He also painted military subjects, including the disbandment of the Durham Light Infantry. Throughout his career Tom illustrated magazines and books, including those by Irish author Stanislaus Lynch and Veronica Heath. Tom’s everlasting passion was for countryside pursuits, hunting and racing. He died all too soon at the age of 64 in 1977. His work is now held in private collections around the world. Two of his oil paintings were included in the BSAT exhibition of Twentieth Century Sporting Art at the Alpine Gallery, London in 1983.