Highly Commended

Thursday 9th March was the date that the very first Stray Ferret Business Awards took place and the venue was The Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground.

I was already feeling excited to be shortlisted as a finalist under two categories of Rising Star under 30 and Sustainability:

When asked to make a comment to the Stray Ferret about being a finalist, I wrote:

Re. The Rising Star Under 30 Award:

“It’s an honour to be shortlisted as a rising star. I’ve been working hard to create a sustainable practice by creating art using discarded materials, running workshops in the community, taking on commissions and opening my own gallery. I am very pleased to have been part of COP26 as a One Step Greener Ambassador, as well as continuing my role as a Force For Nature Ambassador for The Tree Council where I speak to children in schools to raise awareness of environmental issues.  I continue to make sustainable art and provide more opportunities for the community to connect with nature through art. I think we can all help to look after the environment by thinking and acting creatively.  I have faced a number of challenges during my life but I see my autism as a gift as it gives me the strength to be different.    I was 14 years old when I started creating my form of environmental art and 15 when it began to be put on exhibition in different parts of the country.”

A presentation and workshop in a school during March 2023

Re. The Sustainability Award:

“We are all surrounded by the beauty of nature and this has always been the deepest source of inspiration for me. In my efforts to protect the environment, I always choose to incorporate used materials into my art.  I hope that my business values will encourage others to creatively recycle and reuse so we can all do our part to save the planet. My passion for art and environmental issues enabled me to become part of COP26 as a One Step Greener Ambassador and I met the Prime Minister in Downing Street.  I also continue my work as a Force For Nature Ambassador for The Tree Council and with other businesses who want to play their part in providing a sustainable future for generations to come.  The commissioned artwork I did in 2019 for a local racecourse showed me the way forward for using all sorts of recycled materials in my art as I worked with old badges, tickets and leaflets from past racedays on recycled canvases.”

I am delighted to continue the theme of sustainability with Great British Racing & British Champions Series. After they saw my collage for Pontefract Racecourse, I am now being asked to create artwork for a very special event in May.

I was very pleased at the Awards Event to receive the Highly Commended Accolade for the Rising Star Under 30 category.  The news article  states:

“Highly Commended: James Owen Thomas, JOT’s Gallery

James Owen Thomas is an environmental artist and owner of JOT’s Gallery.

James was diagnosed with autism aged three and has since used this, as well as his love for the environment, as a means of inspiration for his art.

James is an ambassador the Tree Council, supporting its Force For Nature campaign.

James’s artwork has helped raise funds for The Alzheimer’s Society, Autism Trust, Disability Action Yorkshire, National Autistic Society and many more.

The judges believed James is a star in the making.”

It was a very special event and I was pleased to share the experience of being there with Fiona Hunt and Tony Georgiou of

They have helped me with practical support in my gallery and with marketing.

Fiona and Tony

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