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 he spent much time exploring sculptural concerns. He was influenced by the local countryside while growing up in Farnham, Surrey and his schooling in Sussex as much as the rural surroundings of Corsham in Wiltshire. Under tutors of an older generation Michael Kidner, Peter Kinley and the emerging generation of New British Sculpture he attended seminars by the likes of Gormley, Deacon, Kapoor and painters Michael Simpson, the late Ken Kiff and Victor Willing and was tutored by Susan Derges amongst others. Corsham instilled rigorous critical thinking, evaluation and artistic discernment.
In the 1990s he received critical acclaim in the Arts Press and broader media 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 and asked questions as to what was being represented through simulacra.
His work has continued to question ideas of representation and in recent years particularly through Landscape with digitally manipulated photographs that play with conventions of composition and colour to make images that appropriate and reconfigure ideas of the historical and pictorial.
Much of the work has been of intimate, closed Landscape, trees meeting at waters edge of pond, lake and river. The horizon line of reflection creating a rorschach effect both actually and mentally in the questions begged by dislocation of colour and genre.
These images play with notions of how we read and imbue meaning in Landscape.
The quoting of the arcadian, idealised representations we recognise from historical contexts be that of painting or the decorative arts examines the pictorial conventions of colour schema and style asking what acts as signifier.
There is a subtle negotiation of how we deal with experience, expectation, memory and nostalgia within the pictorial conventions of what Landscape depiction has come to represent. There is an imbued sense of melancholia with nature as the mirror. As of traditional Chinese painting there is no need to represent the human. Nature and our gaze on it is the mediation as to our place in what we experience as life and how we choose to represent it.