Bradford College

Interview in February 2021

In this interview, J.O.T. shares his artistic process, ideas and inspiration. 

Being An Artist

Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself.

I’m an artist from Nidderdale, North Yorkshire with a keen interest in nature and the environment.

When did you decide you wanted to create artwork from recycled materials?

I’ve been told that as a small child I always enjoyed collecting litter in parks and playgrounds and disposing of it correctly. Perhaps this is how my interest in recycling and collage art started!

What training do you have?

After obtaining A and A* for my art and photography GCSEs, I decided to progress to doing my Silver and Gold Arts Awards through an organisation called We Are Ive in Leeds. Here is a link about my Gold Arts Award: http://weareive.org/ive-celebrates-loveartsaward/
I also did a “Springboard” training course at The Tetley Gallery in Leeds to learn how to develop and deliver workshop activities and events in galleries.

I’m a former student of Bradford School of Art where I obtained a Distinction and Merit for my Extended Diploma in Art and Design. https://www.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/news/from-waste-to-wall-james-showcases-nature-inspired-artwork/

What have been the high points for you so far with your art?

I have enjoyed showing my artwork at all sorts of events in different locations. I have also had opportunities to support charities. My latest project for the Caudwell Children’s Charity for example is very special to me. It’s amazing how my life has turned full circle with my connection with the charity from 15 years ago when I was a young boy.

General Questions

What’s your favourite quote?

Art isn’t what it’s made from but what it has become.

Who are your favourite artists?

Vincent van Gogh, David Hockney, Yayoi Kusama and Frida Kahlo.

What are you aiming for?

To share my work with people and show the importance of using more recyclable materials in art.

How will you get there?

A few years ago I started by showing my artwork at various exhibitions and galleries. I’m also posting and sharing it on Business Facebook and Instagram. I hope that it will receive a wider audience.

Is anything holding you back?

I want to travel with my art. Before Covid-19 I was beginning to exhibit further afield in Milton Keynes at the MK Gallery https://www.mkgallery.org/james-owen-thomas/
and in Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum https://museum.wales/news/?article_id=1153

Lately I’m using the Internet as my own vehicle for travelling wherever I would like to go!

What inspires you as an artist?

I include everything important to me in my ideas for collage for example nature and places I have visited. I love the colours of nature and especially trees, which often appear in my artwork. I keep all my sketchbooks as a record of how I developed ideas.

Do you feel that being creative improves your mental health?

Yes, I do. In stressful times I’ve always found art calming. Art is very therapeutic for me.

Planning Forward and the Future of Your Artwork

What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?

For the past year since the start of the first lockdown, I have been concentrating on a large-scale project of what I could see looking at nature from my window at home.
An opportunity came up to work in co-operation with the Caudwell Children’s Charity and I am very pleased to be able to donate what I had produced during lockdown to their fund-raising cause.
https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/19019669.james-raises-charity-cash/
I’ve also just completed another piece of lockdown art – this time with Bradford in mind. I liked the style and colours of the David Hockney college building. I remember the pigeons on my city walks at lunchtimes. This pigeon is definitely a City fan!

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