Sharon Thomas (b. 1979) is a British figurative artist and lecturer living and working in Glasgow, UK.
A central theme within her work is that of the role of artist as author, analyst, and maker; questioning social constructs, their consequential rituals and arts role within that. Using imaginary material, excerpts from her personal history and the ‘real’ history of art, Thomas presents fictional alongside factual narratives where drawing, painting and installation explore subjects such as gender and class: areas of urgent analysis in the early stages of the 21st Century.
Thomas’ drawings and paintings have been invited for solo exhibitions across Europe, including locations such as Museet for Religios kunst, Demark; The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, UK and Paisley Museum, UK; with exhibitions also taking her work routes across the USA via art fairs in Chicago, USA and Milan, Italy represented by Brooklyn gallery Jack the Pelican Presents; then Washington DC, USA and Cortona, Italy with Italian gallery Teverina Fine Arts.
Purchases of Thomas’ work from these exhibitions have entered collections such as that of the Danish Royal Collection; Ferrari family, NYC; Museet for Religios Kunst, Denmark; Glasgow Museums and private collectors in New York, Europe and the UK.
In 2011, Thomas’ work exploring gender exposed a gap in the visual fine art record of women in contemporary Britain. The Centenary of International Women’s Day that year provided context for the work Herstory Portrait: a series of seminal portrait paintings that Thomas produced of dominantly British powerful women, painted from live sittings currently touring the UK.
The exposure that this work gave to the recognition of exemplary women in British society prompted the further ground breaking work that Thomas went on to produce in the same year: Mary Barbour Monument: A proposal. This limited print edition, part of a seminal exhibition and publication: 21 Revolutions celebrating the 21 years of Glasgow Women’s Library, focused upon the life of a significant Glasgow woman called Mary Barbour: the woman that led the Rent Strike protests of 1915.
With the public attention that this etching inspired, Thomas went on to lead a campaign to commission the installation of a permanent monument of Mary Barbour; by way of the establishment of the charity RMBA to do this. 2018 then marked an important year when the £100k that was raised commissioned a public monument of Mary Barbour, only the 5th of a woman in the city, unveiled by the city’s school children in Glasgow’s shipyard area: Govan.
For Thomas, teaching is an integral part of her artist’s practice. In recent years she has operated as Fine Art lecturer within an array of Scottish academic institutions such as Glasgow School of Art, Strathclyde University, Fife College and House for an Art Lover, Glasgow; providing structured courses in life drawing, technical drawing and painting, as well as individual studio critique. This passion for merging the role of artist with that of teacher has also provided the opportunity to involve community arts with the projects that she has managed. A model of this is Mary Barbour: A Women’s Workshop, which demanded Thomas play a dual role in acquiring support and funding from both charitable and government agencies, the result of which was a 6-month teaching programme for women across Glasgow, culminating in an exhibition and celebration of the newly commissioned Mary Barbour statue in Govan, Glasgow.
A further form of essential collaboration in Thomas’ practice has been her recent work using film and scripted narrative. Prompted by an installation work in 2015 for the exhibition Beyond Epilepsy, curated by Rachel Hewitt at CCA, Glasgow in which Thomas explores her 2012 diagnosis of Epilepsy; Thomas collaborated with British film producer Linda Campbell to compose an award winning film short in 2018. Supported by Scotrail and Unite the Union the film Zone Card is now official educational material provided for its staff across the UK.
Thomas received a Master of Fine Art degree in Painting from the New York Academy of Art: Graduate School of Figurative Art sponsored by Lord Sainsbury, UK and Guggenheim/Wilkinson, USA and a Bachelor of Fine Art degree (Drawing and Painting) from Glasgow School of Art, UK. She is recipient of the New York of Academy International Council Travel Award.
Being awarded a Sainsbury scholarship to develop her studio practice in Italy at the British School of Rome supported Thomas to establish her career in Europe. Here she became represented by Paolo Bonzano gallery, Rome and Teverina Fine Art, Cortona, Italy.
A post-graduate teaching qualification provides Thomas membership of General Teaching Council, observing the standards that govern arts in education across the UK.