Jerry and Anne Hicks were the first visitors through the door at Kathryn’s inaugural exhibition in 1988, becoming special friends and supporters thereafter. Years later Jerry wrote this piece to help Kathryn find her context, and for collectors to see where she fitted into the history of art.
“Picasso said “I don’t seek; I find” – but not all discoveries are of equal value. My wife, Anne and I have been artists and teachers for some 60 years and have been privileged to witness a few very special discoveries. One of the most outstanding was that of Kathryn Thomas whilst studying at Bower Ashton College of Art, now the University of the West of England.
Anne, as a visiting tutor, was enormously impressed with Kathryn’s creative courage and at her final degree show, I was equally in awe of the consistent breadth and intensity of her highly individual vision. The exclusive subject was the
The famous landscape painters over the centuries attached great importance to the sky and it’s infinite variety. Kenneth Clark wrote, “Facts become art through love, which unifies them and lifts them to a higher plane of reality. In landscape, this all-embracing love is expressed by light.”
Claude Lorrain, Constable, the French Impressionists and ‘the illustrious Turner’ all relished the infinite variety of light. Not only are the skies of these great artists a wonderful source of illumination that defines and enriches the natural and man-made forms in the landscape, they also have infinite variety in their constantly changing forms and colours. They stimulate our imagination and our creative handling of paint. Kathryn’s response begins with this great tradition however, even in these early paintings, she broke new ground.
Although the great landscape painters of the past often began with the sky, it is generally the foreground features which dominate the distinctiveness of their compositions – geometric structures, centres of interest, specific ‘portraits’ of architecture, trees, animals and people. Even with the famous ‘outdoor’ artists, the sky was sometimes reduced to the spaces between the leaves, branches, spires and masts. They provide the scale to which we can relate. Kathryn’s skies dispensed with everything traditionally required of figurative painting whilst being based on the intense scrutiny of the Realists. Her uninterrupted ‘waves’ of colour are not abstractions, they are timeless records of the miraculous space in which we float. They are intensely stimulating and beautiful. They are without guile or pretension. They present the truthful, unprejudiced, inspired observations of Kathryn Thomas, expressed through her love of light, life, colour and paint. Hers is the Universe.”
Jerry Hicks, RWA, MBE 1928 – 2014