Hugh Hamshaw Thomas is a London based artist who trained at Central School of Arts & Crafts and Bath Academy of Art (Corsham) in the late 1970s and early 80s.
While studying as a painter under the tuterlige of such diverse artists as Michael Kidner, Peter Kinly, Michael Simpson, Maria Lalic and Susan Derges he spent much time exploring sculptural concerns. This was perhaps prompted by the emerging generation of New British Sculptors Gormley, Deacon and Kapoor that also lectured.
His growing up in the countryside of Farnham, Surrey and schooling in Sussex as much as the rural surroundings of Corsham, Wiltshire imbued a strong sense of place and landscape. Notions of the romantic, bucolic and arcadian became suffused in a growing imagination. These aspects became more symbolically internalised with the death of his first girlfriend at nineteen.
Ideas surrounding loss developed in the work that followed in later years. In the 1990s he received critical acclaim for his large scale installations that categorised plastic flowers into pseudo botanical collections. These works explored ideas of mortality, trace and memory through discarded plastic flowers found in cemetery bins and charity shops.
These themes were explored further in cyanotypes and screen print, again examining how ideas of absence are recorded via simulacra and trace.
In more recent work he continues to question ideas of representation and memory through landscape imagery. Here, digitally manipulated photographs play with and reconfigure ideas of the historical and pictorial within the Decorative Arts to re-address meanings and quote via signifiers of colour and reference.
There is a subtle negotiation of how we compress experience, memory and nostalgia within the pictorial conventions of what landscape depiction has come to be in both Nature and it’s representation.
There is a lingering sense of melancholia with nature as the mirror. As of much traditional Chinese painting there is no need to represent the human. Nature and the gaze upon it becomes the mediation of experience and how meanings are generated through the representation of it.