With Art Trail Wanstead taking a year off, we invited local artist Christopher Thomas to present one of his paintings here instead
I was born in South Wales, studied at Cardiff College of Art and graduated from Birmingham Polytechnic with a degree in Fine Art. After graduation, I stayed on in Birmingham and continued painting, drawing and exhibiting work with the financial assistance of West Midlands Arts.
By the end of my twenties, the urge to travel was strong and I spent most of the next 10 years overseas in the Far East, Asia and Latin America.
When I returned to Britain, I was eager to resume my involvement in drawing and painting and decided to attend life drawing classes. The life room has provided me with a discipline that has remained constant in my work to the present day.
Over the past three years, I’ve produced three books which narrate stories pictorially. Not Countin’ Mexicans is a biography of the brief but eventful life of Billy the Kid. Every Day is a Good Day is a biography of the long and bemused life of Hotei San. And John Barleycorn is a folk song which deals with the personification of the crop and an allegory of Christ’s passion.
Another aspect of my work deals with walking and the environment in which the walker finds himself. Some years ago, I produced an extensive sequence of drawings entitled Underneath the Arches, which concerns itself with the London churches of Nicholas Hawksmoor, their genii loci and the linear space between them. More recently, I’ve been working on other themes relating to walks and treks I’ve made both at home and abroad. Over the years, I’ve made many treks in the Nepal Himalaya, and on the last two, I took a drawing book to supplement my usual photographic endeavours. With the aid of memory, drawings and photographs, I’ve been making paintings of Himalayan landscapes. In tandem with this, I’ve also been making paintings of Wiltshire’s neolithic landscape.
There are many influences on my work. It often has a basis or a correspondence in literature, myth, the Bible and folk song. I spend a great deal of time looking at and copying from the Old Masters in order to gain insights into formal problem solving.