Farleys House & Gallery exhibition - art from other people's waste

James Owen ThomasJames Owen Thomas
James Owen Thomas
A new exhibition of colourful collages at Farleys House & Gallery by 20-year-old Sussex-born environmental artist James Owen Thomas (J.O.T.) has now opened (running until July 11 2021).

After an early diagnosis of autism, James – who goes under the name J.O.T. – was eventually able to overcome problems of communication with the help of pictures.

Now through his own artwork, J.O.T. highlights the damaging effects of single-use products on the environment, by turning the waste discarded by others into his medium for expression.

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His interest in the use of recycled materials began after noticing how disheartened customers were discarding their used and unsuccessful scratch-cards without a care for the environment they littered.

J.O.T. found a way to repurpose them by sorting, tearing, cutting and separating patterns and symbols to develop his unique colour palette for his artwork.

A former student of Bradford School of Art, J.O.T. became inspired by different artists including David Hockey, Van Gogh, Seurat and the pointillist movement. He now uses his own distinctive style to represent his many interests in nature and the environment.

“From an early age, I always preferred to see litter in bins rather than spoiling the countryside, parks and seashore. I later realised how some of it can be recycled and this developed into a special interest exploring my own ideas in art.”

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For five years there have been opportunities for J.O.T. to travel with his artwork from galleries in the north in Bradford, Cumbria, Durham, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Richmond, Ripon, Sedbergh and Wakefield to further afield in Milton Keynes and Swansea.

J.O.T. is also collaborating with national children’s charity Caudwell Children on an ambitious, multi-canvas artwork that will commemorate the entire history of the charity from 2000-2020. The artwork is expected to be publicly unveiled for the first time at one of the charity’s main fund-raising events in 2021.

For the moment, though, the focus is in on his From Waste To Wall exhibition – for the first time in the county where he was born, East Sussex

“Over the years I have enjoyed visiting Farleys House & Gallery: Home of the Surrealists and seeing the variety of artwork and photography on display.”

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“I feel proud and pleased to have the opportunity to exhibit my own art at Farleys Gallery.

“Surrealist art always surprises me as I am an artist who likes to create order from disorder. It fascinates me when I see a painting with items out of context, placed next to each other for no clear reason.”

“I include what is most important to me in my ideas for collage: nature, places visited and special occasions. Visitors to my exhibitions appreciate the environmental aspect of me being able to turn unwanted material into something creative and unique. I’ve been told that my work is truly inspiring and thought-provoking as people understand that I create art with a message.”

From Waste To Wall is on Sundays and Thursdays, May 20-July 11 at Farleys Gallery, Muddles Green, Chiddingly, BN8 6HW. Gallery open: Sundays and Thursdays, 10am-4.30pm. Pre-book online (exhibitions and garden ticket).

James lives in Pateley Bridge near Harrogate but often comes back to Sussex to visit family in Eastbourne and Hailsham.