RIOT ART GALLERY: A curated selection of art for the next generation collector

Hand-stiched memories: The art of Thomas Abercromby

InterviewsErika Belavy

With it's unique tactile allure, felt has been going through a revival in recent years. There is a surge of innovation and artists are finding new ways of using it in their practice. One of these artists is Thomas Abercromby. Based in Scotland, Thomas' large scale, hand-stitched artworks (all made out of felt!) are sure to leave you impressed. His creations  investigate themes such as childhood, social deprivation, sexuality and most importantly identity of ones self. We're pleased to introduce Thomas as our featured artist this week.

What made you decide to become an artist?  

I think I have always wanted to be an artist ever since I was a child, I grew up in a very deprived area of Glasgow and the only escape from reality was to paint and draw, I usually didn't have the tools such as paper and pencils, so I would use what was around me like the back of envelops as my paper, charcoal I would find from burnt out buildings. I believe that even now my art is a way to reflect my own personal emotions on different themes.

Your works are made of stitched felt. What inspired you to choose this as a medium? 

There is two reasons for using the stitched felt, firstly the hand stitching, as a child because we didn't have much, I would stitch together old clothes to create toys for myself, secondly the felt reflexes childhood.

Your work explores themes such as social deprivation and self identity. What drew you to these themes? 

My own personal childhood, again growing up in a deprived area I have a lot of memories which I reflect in my art work using different themes such as addiction, death, sexuality etc. The work may not always read like a story, which is intentional, I want the viewer to guess, to question it. The viewer may not always understand the story behind a certain artwork, but they can empathise with the raw emotion over the material.

What do you want to accomplish with your work? How are you doing this?

My work is always about reaching out to people to let them know they are not alone. Art is sometimes felt as inaccessible to a lot of people, some people believe its is for a gifted few. I want them to question that. Art is for everyone. I believe it is the best form of self help.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

To control time

Shop Thomas Abercromby's art here


Thomas Abercromby Is a Scottish Contemporary artist and curator, graduating with a BA (Hons.) in Visual art from the University of Dundee. By focusing on techniques and materials, Abercromby creates intense personal moments masterfully created by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer in with universal emotions, that the viewer can then empathise with. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, he considers making art a craft which is executed using clear formal rules and which should always refer to social reality. His works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection.