Ceri Thomas with Peter Stead at the opening of 'Placing Dylan', National Waterfront Museum Swansea, 2014
Ceri Thomas with Peter Stead at the opening of ‘Placing Dylan’, National Waterfront Museum Swansea, October 2014

I paint and draw figures, portraits, places and objects in a style which I see as a kind of magic realism in that my apparently realistic images are modified by memory and imagination and an underlying abstraction.  My paintings and works on paper deal with the human condition.

My subject matter is the figure, time and place – elements which co-exist in all our individual and shared realities and, even though only virtual in art, these can be magically and symbolically re-embodied in the physical objects created by artists to re-present them.

I work from life, memory and imagination to produce images which transcend the particularised, be it a likeness or a place in specific time.  The result is, I hope, a sense of ourselves, of Wales and the world, of the local and the universal.

My current and recent images reference aspects of historical and contemporary Wales.

They range from images of the reflective composer Grace Williams to the ‘heroic’ athlete Colin Jackson.  But these interpretations and the series of images which take my own likeness as a starting point are about more than just Welsh people and Wales.  This also applies to my large-scale ‘Morning over Cwmdonkin’ painting which is not just about Dylan and which acknowledges the practice of Mark Boyle (1934-2005) and family.

Similarly, my mixed media photocollages of places in Wales and abroad are also dealing with aesthetics and space-time and acknowledge a technique popularised by David Hockney (b 1937) and others.

Ceri Thomas with one of his New York photocollage and watercolour pictures, March 2011
Ceri Thomas with one of his New York photocollage and watercolour pictures, March 2011

Earlier images of mine have referenced aspects of historical and contemporary Italy.

This was partly due to my MA in Visual Art at Aberystwyth and my dissertation on the Italian artist Pietro Annigoni (1910-88) and post-war Britain.  It was followed by a Council of Europe Higher Education Scholarship to further my painting, drawing and printmaking skills in Florence in 1989-90.

My principal painting media are oil, acrylic and watercolour (although I have also used oil tempera in the past) .  My main drawing ones are chalk pastel, pencil and charcoal (and I have occasionally used ink and silverpoint).  Sometimes I combine some of these and I have used and incorporated other media too, including photography and printmaking.

In the summer of 2002, Caroline Juler wrote the article ‘Light Subversive: The Art of Ceri Thomas’ in Planet: The Welsh Internationalist (no 153).  My mural ‘Morning over Cwmdonkin’ (then titled ‘Mo(u)rning over Cwmdonkin’) featured in colour on the cover and the article included a b&w photograph by Bernard Mitchell of me standing in front of it at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales.

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