Pastimes With Tom Willis
‘Pastimes’ was born from a Google deep dive leading to the discovery of the existence of a number of dedicated hobby clubs operating around the country, often revolving around vintage toys and games such as Scalextric, Meccano or model planes.
Words by – Jonathan Tomlinson Photography by – Tom Willis

This series stems from Tom Willis’s fascination with the intense devotion that the members of these clubs have towards their respective hobbies, often pouring hours of their time and significant sums of money into perfecting their crafts. Scale models of warships and tiny cars fine-tuned to minute degrees are among the incredibly impressive products of the club members labour. Many seemingly fuelled by a nostalgic desire to recapture the sense of childhood wonder brought about by these modern artefacts.

Willis’ work is centred around an ongoing study of human behaviour and the relationships that we develop between each other. This series comes out of Willis’ interest in concepts surrounding pride and passion. In this ongoing body of work, Willis captures a nostalgic desire that would recapture the sense of childhood wonder brought about by these modern artefacts. Though many clubs find numbers are dwindling, with seemingly much of the younger generations completely unaware, or just uninterested, the passion and commitment from long standing members is indescribable. “West London Scalextric Club has been running for over 45 years and has its roots in a slot car club set up by members of the social club at the Westland Helicopter Factory. It was a bit disheartening to hear how a once thriving club with healthy membership numbers and such a rich history had now been reduced down to a much, much smaller contingent of only around a dozen. Russell has been running the club as chairman for just over 20 years, having been a member for over 40. He runs the club with the help of his mum and dad who are amazingly 86 and 94 respectively. They still enjoy the odd race or two and show no signs of slowing down just yet.” Through a focus on portraiture, the images showcase quiet determination and limitless passion of the members of these groups, while also documenting the oddities and intricacies of the environments and equipment.