I was born in Eastbourne in 2001. Art played an important part in my early life and as a small child I enjoyed visiting art galleries. I have been told that when taken out in my pushchair I would feel much calmer looking at large, brightly-coloured pieces of artwork. The use of pictures also became a means of communication after my diagnosis of autism at the age of 3½ and during my early school years.
I moved from East Sussex to North Yorkshire in 2011 and have been inspired by the rugged landscape of the Dales which is very different to the gentle rolling hills of the South Downs. One reason I create images of landscapes, architecture and nature using recycled materials is because I like a challenge. When given for example a bag full of out-of-date tickets or claimed scratch cards saved for me by local shops, I try to create a work of art from what would otherwise have been thrown away. I like to see how sections of printed words, numbers and patterns can blend into one of my mosaic-style scenes.
James Owen Thomas:
“I like to see how sections of printed words, numbers and patterns can blend into one of my mosaic-style scenes.”
What are the main inspirations behind your work?
In my art I am highlighting issues about the environment and single use products as I turn things discarded by others into a medium for expression. For me the starting point of this whole process is to collect and organise into a manageable form all the many pieces of recycled materials I work with. I enjoy creating order out of disorder! Over recent years I have mainly worked with scratch cards but will also consider other materials. Old tickets, leaflets, product packaging and fabrics can be recycled into commissioned art pieces.
The art I create has all been made from recycled items – from the canvases I buy second-hand to the materials I use to collage onto the canvases. The sorting, tearing, cutting and hole-punching of scratch cards provides my colour palette. It could be termed Environmental Art. If what I can do will encourage and inspire people to re-use and recycle, then hopefully we can look forward to a more environmentally-friendly future.
What are you working on at the moment?
I currently have a solo exhibition in Edinburgh. ‘From Waste To Wall’ will showcase works made from recycled materials, including scratch cards and tickets.
The exhibition runs from 2nd of August to 30th of September at The Image Collective Gallery, Edinburgh.
Click below to see more of James Owen Thomas’ work…