Tom Hulme watercolour
20th Century
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

Tom Hulme


It certainly wasn't because he felt his painting ability to be superior. He didn't think that he was much of an artist. He referred to his painting as a hobby. Line drawing, water colours and soft pastels were his more competent areas. Painting in oil was frustrating, the resulting work too stiff. He once told Jim that he would sometimes be so dissatisfied with a piece that he would throw it on the floor and jump all over it - an image that those around him would find difficult to conjure up - and swear that he wouldn't make another painting in his entire life. That feeling wouldn't last, and before long, he would be back at his easel.
There was very little evidence in the Hulme household of the art work that Tom produced at the Medalta factory, maybe a vase or two and books of glaze recipes. This was perhaps another way to keep his job and his home life separate. After his retirement, he did do some artwork for Medalta Potteries (1966) Limited, a pottery factory in Redcliff, Alberta, and he did keep a few examples of that work which was mainly line drawings of wild life such as mountain goats, bison and elk.

There was one Medalta project of which Tom was very proud and that was the hand painting that he did on the Hailie Selassie dinner ware. According to Tom, there were two sets of dishes manufactured for Selassie - the hand painted set, possibly for the royal family, and the stamped set which was for the household staff. The factory was given strict orders to destroy any defective ware on site. Given those circumstances, it was by a stroke of good fortune that a couple of imperfect stamped pieces made for the household staff found their way to the Medalta Museum collection. A hand decorated item has yet to surface.

Jim moved back to Medicine Hat with his second wife Mona and took a position as art teacher at Medicine Hat High School. He remained in contact with Tom and Ruby until their passing.
He remembers them with a great deal of fondness, Ruby for her kindness and gentleness, Tom for his high moral standards and ethics, his forthrightness and his modesty ("he knew what he knew and didn't feel the need to broadcast it, unlike people today").

In his own home, Jim has some tangible memories - a water colour painting of a winter scene with water and trees which was a wedding present, a couple of pastel paintings and a pastel portrait that Tom did of John Kennedy.