A move to Reading University heralded another change in his painting. From the early 70's his work became more formalist through his engagement with a group called 'Systems', a collective led by the painter and constructivist Malcolm Hughes. Perhaps this is not surprising, as his early training in architecture enabled him to identify with their passion for structure, architectural spaces, and grids such as Network' 1972.
In his 2005 book 'Helford - A River and some landscapes', he confronts the many twists and turns in a prolific career: "throughout my work abstraction and realism have gone hand in hand. From time to time one of these has been dominant but never wholly at the expense of the other. I feel there is no need to choose."
Following his move to Falmouth in 1976, Tom pursued a more representational form of landscape and still life painting. His later work demonstrates a sophistication that is not only evocative of the subject matter but also maintains a profoundly intelligent art-making that reflects a lifetime of learning such as The Quay at Port Navas' 2005.