Arts Editor: Christopher George
In advance of his first London solo exhibition, we talk to Bristol-based artist Thomas Dowdeswell about his work, his influences and what makes him tick.
In just a few words, tell us who you are and what you do
I am Thomas W. Dowdeswell, a contemporary artist working out of a studio in Bristol where I create drawings, oil on canvas paintings and sculptures based on my own interpretations of people, society and current affairs.
How would you describe your work?
My work continues to evolve in several directions but I've always retained a visceral, socio-political heritage which I believe conveys the work in a common language. I often play with contradictory perspectives, faceless characters and bright and bold interchanges of colour to create complex narratives. The aim of this is to layer meanings into the idea so that a viewer can return to the piece and continue to discover more. I think it is important that a piece of art continues to generate new ideas and interpretations as time evolves and the cultural landscape changes.
Tell us about your forthcoming solo show 'The age of people who live with their heads in boxes'
The Age Of people Who Live With Their Heads In Boxes was construed, and has been developed, against a backdrop of of deepening socio-cultural-political division in the UK but also globally. Massive changes are unfolding in this generation and people seem to be more and more polarised in their opinions and less and less willing to listen to the arguments/interpretations of others who stand outside their 'Idea-Realm'. The Age of The Box is a simple but interesting motif about where we stand as individuals in how we respond to others and also how we organise ourselves.
The exhibition will comprise a series of brand new works; drawings, paintings, sculptures and some ‘Swastika-themed/War and Peace' pop art wallpaper. The concept of the exhibition is to highlight the dangerous precipice we stand on; how easily we could slide into prejudice and war and the need to for us to lift the box of ignorance off our heads to some greater semblance of forgiveness, open-mindedness and generosity.
Talk us through your creative process.
I don't have a specific creative process. I go to the studio everyday and always have five to six projects on the go. The language of each piece can inspire sections for the other works and if I get stuck on one painting I go and concentrate on another. At the basis of all creativity and success is hard work so I make sure I get the hours in.
Who and what are your biggest influences?
My work tends to grow out of an absorption of what is unfolding in society. I do a lot of staring out of the window and thinking; daydreaming sometimes to imagine a piece of work into being. When I was younger I was heavily influenced by the Russian Cubo-Futurists and I think the colour balance of my work resonates with a bygone generation. I also have an interest in classical art, especially Brueghel and Bosch and the oeuvre of Francis Bacon. Everything can be an influence with the dash of a Dowdeswellian twist.
What makes you get up and create art?
There is something deep and profound in my subconscious which propels me to create. It is not something I have a choice over. After many years of creating I still get a buzz; a wave of relief and excitement as soon as I enter the studio and If I haven't been to the studio I start to feel uncomfortable and irritable.
What next for Thomas Dowdeswell?
There are a lot of projects in the pipeline. I'm planning my next show, 'The Law of the Street’ (dates and venue still to be confirmed). This will form a combination of paintings and installations commenting on the horrendous consequences of crime and murder which have been unfolding over the past months/years; it will involve toy guns, toy knives and empty hanging hoodies amongst other things. I am also working on my street art alter-ego which will be coming soon!
The Age of People Who Live With Their Heads in Boxes is at Cass Art Islington
66-67 Colebrook Row, London N1 8AB from 30 April to 12 May