Lola Thomas

UniversityArts University Bournemouth 

Graduation: 2015

Genre: Fine Art

Website: www.lola-thomas.com

Artist Statement: My current work explores the melancholic beauty surrounding the impermanence and decay of nature. I am interested in using images from various sources, along with my own images, to create an almost encyclopedic collection of imagery. 

 Images from the series  A Place in Time

Images from the series A Place in Time

What are some standout moments from your time at university? Our grad show in London at the end of our three years was a real standout moment. The way we all worked together and raised a huge amount of money to put on a wonderful show. It was so great to work with, and display my work alongside so many talented people.

The people I met at university were also so important. The conversations I had and the help I received from some of my peers, tutors and technicians, played a big part in enabling me to create the work I did (and still do). It was a great environment for creativity.

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? I find it pretty hard to define my work in terms of genre, as I am often interested in many different aspects that then come together to create my own personal project.

What themes do you find yourself exploring? My work often has a melancholic feeling, with a sense of longing / searching for something.

  From the series   A Place in Time

From the series A Place in Time

  From the series   A Place in Time

From the series A Place in Time

What drew you to creating a body of work based around the "impermanence and decay of nature"? Since graduating, I didn’t really have a project in mind, I just wanted to make sure I was still active with photography. I then started to realise everything I was interested in and photographing, had a link. I was being drawn to the beauty in things that had died or had begun to decay, and the traces left by living things. This led to an appreciation of the melancholic beauty in the impermanence of nature and natural cycles. Just because something dies doesn’t mean its beauty ends too. Fossils in particular appealed to me as I was drawn to the way something had died but the traces of it had left something beautiful. This also interested me in relation to the medium of photography. How photography is also a trace of something that was once alive. There is a great quote from John Berger’s The Ambiguity of the Photograph where he writes, “Photographs do not translate from appearances. They quote from them.” This can also describe the nature of a fossil.

As the project A Place in Time is currently being developed, how do you plan to complete it? I still feel like I have a way to go with this project and a lot more I want to photograph. I want to look more into the imprint and traces nature leaves in the world / land, along with how this relates to the photographic image. I finally would like to create a self-published book of the work. As I want the work to have an encyclopaedic nature I feel it would work well as a book.

  Images from the series   A Place in Time

Images from the series A Place in Time

What are the biggest influences on your photography? Perhaps there's a visual artist or theoretical text that you constantly refer back to during the process of creating new work? I mentioned John Berger’s The Ambiguity of the Photograph earlier and I feel this has been very important recently. It doesn’t so much relate to my practice but it really makes you think about the medium of photography. I feel like it’s a very important read for anyone studying photography or interested in the medium. I have also really enjoyed Aleix Plademunt’s book Almost There and Marten Lange’s Another Language. Although I feel like non art (documentation) photography has inspired me the most at present, such as early photographs of space and the moon and photographs from old encyclopaedias. I keep a tumblr just full of images that interest and inspire me (http://lolathomasresearch.tumblr.com/) it’s a great way to keep them all in one place.

Can you tell us more about your work Another Place, and Here? Is the series finished? Yes this project is completely finished. It was my major project in my final year of university. It reflected the continual longing we have for the unknown and the unattainable. There seems to be a desire in humans for unknown, fantasy spaces and new frontiers. The series was a melancholic collection of timeless images of places that feel familiar yet unfamiliar, real yet unreal, spaces that exist both around us, yet nowhere.

  From the series   Another Place, and Here

From the series Another Place, and Here

  From the series   Another Place, and Here

From the series Another Place, and Here

You graduated roughly a year ago; what is your biggest achievement since completing your degree, and if you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice before becoming a graduate, what would that be? My biggest achievement would probably be having my series, Another Place, and Here, on show at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, and also having a selection of A Place in Time published in the Spring edition of the Snow Literary Review.

My one piece of advice would probably be to not try and impress the tutors and be “clever” with your work, but instead do something that you are truly passionate about and interested in. If the work doesn’t make you feel excited it’ll be hard for anyone else to find it exciting too.

Where do you source archive imagery and do you have any advice for others wanting to work with these kinds of photographs? I mainly find my imagery through eBay, or old postcards in antique shops. My hometown of Lewes is a great place to find old photographs and postcards. It’s difficult to give advice on how to work with these images. I originally began collecting images as inspiration then it gradually started to enter my work. I think the most important thing is just to find imagery you’re excited about and go from there.

There is a clear similarity between your images and the archive ones, to the point that it seems unclear as to which is which. Do you purposely attempt to mimic the style of these images? I didn’t originally do it on purpose but I suppose that kind of imagery is what interests me the most at the moment, so therefore it is bound to have seeped in and influenced how I look at the world and photograph it.

  From the series   Another Place, and Here

From the series Another Place, and Here

How do you decide where to photograph? It depends; usually it’s places I am already familiar with. I also try to always take a camera with me when I go for walks in the countryside, as usually it’s just something I see that I find interesting and relates to my work.

What camera did you use to shoot A Place in Time, and is this your preferred camera choice? I shot that project on my Pentax 6x7. It’s definitely my camera of choice and I love using it so much. The downfall is it’s pretty hefty so quite hard to always carry around with you. I just got a Fuji X-Pro1 digital camera though. It’s my first proper digital camera so I’m having lots of fun with that. It’s a completely different way of shooting but I’m enjoying being able to take it everywhere with me, and not having to worry about the cost of processing and printing.

As you're considering making a book for A Place in Time, what is your favourite photobook by another photographer/artist? At the moment, it’s The Voyage of Discovery by Carly Steinbrunn, published by Mack books. In fact all the photobooks published by Mack are wonderful. But that’s my favourite at the moment.

  From the series   Another Place, and Here

From the series Another Place, and Here

Can you remember the moment you became interested in photography? If so, tell us more. Yes, it was when I was in year 8 and I started going to Photography Club after school. We were lucky enough to have a darkroom in my secondary school and since that point I knew it was what I wanted to do.

If you could undertake any project possible, what would that be? Probably a trip to the moon so I could take beautiful moonscapes.