Explaining my Art

Fountains Hall, the collage I did a few years ago, has been on my mind this week as it is one of the locations of the new TV drama about Anne Boleyn.  A scene showed the front of the building and it reminded me of the photo I took and used for ideas in my collage:

The bricks were tiny £50 notes which I cut from discarded scratch cards.  I remember at the time being asked about this by The National Trust and the image of my artwork was used for publicity at Fountains Abbey encouraging visitors to take a tour of Fountains Hall:

 My volunteering

by James Thomas 13 July 2017

James at Fountains Abbey with his artwork (Paul Harris)

James is a volunteer at Fountains Abbey and this is his story about volunteering with us.

“About a year ago, I started a new role at Fountains Abbey and became a World Heritage Youth Ambassador. I have received my first certificate after completing an interesting project on World Heritage sites. Since then I have been asked to design advertising material for posters for a tour of Fountains Hall and a National Trust leaflet. I enjoyed making a collage of Fountains Hall using recycled scratch cards.” 

Being interviewed four years ago was quite nerve-wracking! 

I use techniques nowadays like taking a deep breath before an interview.   I did this recently when speaking on BBC Radio Sussex about my exhibition at Farleys House and Gallery.  I tried to imagine that I was just talking to a friend on the telephone because that made me feel more relaxed.

Here is a photo of me with Antony Penrose, owner of Farleys House and Gallery in E Sussex at my exhibition From Waste To Wall.  Antony was sitting alongside me at the time of the radio interview.

Transcription of the last segment of BBC Radio Sussex’s interview by Sarah Gorrell in conversation with James Owen Thomas and Antony Penrose at Farley’s House and Gallery. 1.15pm Thur 20 May 2021

Sarah: It must be wonderful to be able to display the work of somebody who has such an interesting perspective on things and a great new talent.

Antony: Some serious talent here, yes. And you see, most of our collection here is Surrealism and that’s what we’ve become accustomed to. James’s exhibition resonates with that because the Surrealists loved making things out of unconventional materials and that’s exactly what James is doing. He’s taking these discarded things and enhancing them and making them into something completely different, valuable and meaningful.

Sarah: What I love about his art is that like all art, it’s so thought-provoking. 

Antony: It is and underlines the usefulness of all these materials that we are heedlessly discarding all the time.

Sarah: I love the discarded chair, which James said now looks more like a throne.

Antony: It is a very elevated object now and it’s wonderful to have rescued it from certain death

in a wood and made it into something exciting as it is now.

Sarah: We’re now heading out of lockdown and people are finally able to come and enjoy what’s on offer. That must be so wonderful for you.

Antony: It is wonderful and resonates with the concern for the environment. And I think we’ve all learned during lockdown that the most important issue of all is to take care of the planet.

And certainly James is a very good example of ways that we can think about that and work on it.

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