Fern Thomas’s practice plays with ritual, mythmaking, folk magic and folklore both historically and in new forms. She works with archetypal images, pedagogical spaces and inner landscapes, creating works rooted in a connection to nature and place.
Her work can take the form of sound, object, live action, song and the spoken word. One to one encounters, traditional audience/performer experiences, participatory and socially engaged spaces are some of the ways the work is shared.
Her creative processes can include conjuring imagined encounters with dead animals and the founding of fictional lands and time travelling research units. She incorporates dream work and amateur shamanic journeying as a vital part of her research strategies.
Thomas will often draw on archives, historical ‘facts’ and outmoded forms of knowledge as starting points into what is lost, unknown or unimagined. She is interested in the role of the internal imaginative space as a tool (influenced by her mentor Shelley Sacks), and is increasingly drawn to questions around the relationship between the image and healing.
Recently Thomas’ research has addressed the Phenomenology of Motherhood, with an emphasis on natural rhythms and moments of daily transitions, and ‘Women’s labour’.
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Fern Thomas graduated from the MA in Social Sculpture at Oxford Brookes University in 2012 where she was awarded the Interdisciplinary Arts Prize in Social Sculpture and was supported by an AHRC Award. In 2013 she was a recipient of a Creative Wales Award from Arts Council Wales and in 2011 was winner of Mostyn Open. She has exhibited in Norway, Mexico, Georgia, New Zealand, Germany, USA and in venues across the UK including Anthony Reynolds Gallery in London. Her solo show When the moon fell out of orbit was held at Mission Gallery in 2012.
Notable projects and commissions include: Spring Tides Archipelago, a live work for Experimentica at Chapter Arts Centre (2018), Office in Bed, a collaborative research group with members based in Wales and Denmark at Agder Kunstsenter, Norway (2016), The Green Room, a pedagogic green space for Trust New Art Bristol /National Trust with Owen Griffiths (2014), Ephemeral Coast at Mission Gallery (2014), Collaborative Residency with Owen Griffiths at Center for Land Use Interpretation Mojave Desert (2014), Out of Nowhere, Centre of Contemporary Art, Tbililsi, Georgia (2014) Let’s See What Happens…a three year exchange with artists from China and Swansea working with Glynn Vivian Art Gallery (2012), Audiograft, Festival of Sonic Art with the Sonic Art Research Unit Oxford (2012), Identitades, Residency at Morelia Museum del Estado, Mexico (2008), Obsessions, Modern Art Oxford (2008).
Thomas is lead researcher at the fictional Institute for Imagined Futures & Unknown Lands. She is member of collaborative groups Office in Bed, Forever Academy and Copenhagen based collective ATB, and is a long time collaborator of Owen Griffiths. She is an affiliate of the Social Sculpture Research Unit led by Shelley Sacks at Oxford Brookes University.