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Tales of Shiney-Shiney Oxford Times Review 2009

Sharon Thomas: Tales of Shiney-Shiney at The North Wall

Wednesday 11th November 2009 By Helen Peacocke

The dry autumn leaves strewn on the floor of the North Wall Gallery, Summertown, have not been blown in by the wind. They are all part of the picture Apotropaic, by Sharon Thomas, which dominates the main wall.

This long charcoal drawing (80cm x 300cm) shows a young woman who is about to encounter a group of crow men, who are relaxing, having removed their beaks, and are totally unaware of her approach, while one, whom she has disturbed as she walks, kneels at her feet.

The landscape, illuminated with shafts of light, is vast; the trees, with their massive roots, are dark and slightly sinister; and the mountain in the distance offers a challenge to anyone who wishes to reach its summit. A peacock, which is the ancient symbol of renewal, dominates the foreground. So what is it all about? What is Sharon trying to say? And why don’t the figures sit easily in the rustic scene in which she has placed them?

Sharon is an artist who is interested in the suspension of belief. She sees art as an uncontrolled area where theories can be played out and is keen to use recognisable references and twist them slightly, as she makes her artistic journey, which she hopes the viewer will share.

Besides the main picture, Sharon is showing several others in her Coffee Morning Series (see picture) which are painted in coffee dregs and pigment. They feature what at first appears to be a pot-bellied man, but could easily be her depiction of a pregnant man carrying a child.

The three circular oil paintings are equally complex and will leave the viewer asking even more questions about Sharon’s artistic journey and the references within her work.

This intriguing exhibition entitled Tales of Shiney-Shiney, continues until November 21, providing us all with time to see it more than once if we don’t understand her message the first time round.

The exhibition is open from Monday to Saturday,. 11am to 4pm. The gallery is in South Parad, Summertown.