Sharon Thomas

Ripe for the Picking (band of brothers) – Nice Peonies Mister, 2008, oil on panel, 60 cm diameter

The work of British painter Sharon Thomas applies traditional methods of representation, landscape and figuration, to comment on issues of class, gender and identity in contemporary society. Her style evolves out of a close study of Old Master techniques particularly from the nineteenth century British landscape tradition, and academy figure painting. This method of stylistic appropriation is used as a means to identify and comment on received notions of identity in past and present society.

Thomas has described her work as being like steps along a ‘path’ that is ‘life with its various destinations.’ Consequently her work reveals an episodic quality whereby each painting forms an element of a greater whole. At the heart of Thomas’ narrative is the juxtaposition of a received idea of national identity, exemplified by the ‘green and pleasant pastures’ of England celebrated in William Blake’s poem Jerusalem, with the reality that both the landscape and the ideals of the British people are changing.

Along the path of Thomas’ story we frequently encounter scenarios in which an unperturbed female protagonist appears threatened by the menacing men around her, involved in various enactments of male-oriented rituals. On occasion we see the action unfold from the female protagonist’s point of view: through the act of portrayal the artist de-mystifies the rituals rendering them humorous and absurd. Sometimes Thomas brings us close to the action to examine the participants of the ritual, as in the three paintings from the series, Ripe for the Picking. These men are caught in the frame like actors on a stage, their self-assertive posturing made ridiculous as they perform the parts expected of them by a force greater than themselves.

Initiation, 2005, charcoal on paper, 100×80 cm

Father and Son, 2005, charcoal on paper, 100×110 cm

Fruits of the Forest, 2006, Charcoal on paper, 140×100 cm

Apotropaic, 2005, British School at Rome installation view, charcoal on paper, 100×340 cm

Coffee morning series: Are they pregnant or actually just obese, 2007, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 23×30.5 cm

Coffee morning series: “well I’ve always thought the cubists were…”, 2007, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 23×30.5 cm

Coffee morning series: Untitled, 2007, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 23×30.5 cm

Coffee morning series: Continue up the forest clearing, 2007, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 30.5×23 cm

Coffee morning series: The Chronicles of Fairy Hill – the Witness, 2008, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 23×30.5 cm

Coffee morning series: Under a tree, 2008, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 30.5×23 cm

Coffee morning series: Fun in the cornfields, 2008, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 23×30.5 cm

Coffee morning series: The Waltz – the real romance epic, 2008, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 30.5×23 cm

Coffee morning series: The Waltz (detail), 2008, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 30.5×23 cm

Coffee morning series: Ritual – 3 middle-aged men – all similar, 2008, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 23×30.5 cm

Coffee morning series: The need to follow, 2008, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 30.5×23 cm

Coffee morning series: girls girls girls as hole three, 2008, pencil & coffee as watercolour on paper, 30.5×23 cm

Sharon Thomas lives and works in Glasgow. She obtained her degree from Glasgow School of Art (2001) and her Masters from the New York Academy of Art (2004); she received the Sainsbury Scholarship from the British School at Rome in 2005. Her studies were supported by the Villore Scholarship (2001) and by the Sainsbury Scholarship (2002-2005). She has had Solo exhibitions at the Museet for Religious Kunst, Denmark (2009) and North Wall Gallery, Oxford (2009). She has participated in several group exhibitions, at: Spike Gallery, New York (2004); Times Square Gallery, New York (2005); Transmission, Glasgow (2005); Roger Miller Gallery, New York (2005); Cornerhouse, Manchester (2006); British School at Rome (2006); PPOW Gallery, New York (2006); Gi:Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art (2008); Air Gallery, DUMBO, New York (2009)183rd Annual Exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, awarded the Guthrie Award and Medal for the painting Regina Res Publica, 2004 (2009).