Haven Gallery is pleased to present, “Reflections and Dreams”, a solo exhibition of new sculptures by UK based artist Zoe Thomas. “New Works” is Thomas’s second solo show at the gallery and features nine clay sculpted dolls that surrealistically merge the world of humans with the animal kingdom. Serenely painted faces are embraced by wings, an owl mask or an entire animal ensemble. Humanity peacefully co-exists with animals in the souls of her dolls as they exude a sense of tranquility and peace. A reminder of our natural roots and the undoubted connection of all living things.
ARTIST STATEMENT I was lucky to be brought up in a creative family, who always encouraged my creativity and taught me a wide range of crafts, from around the age of 10, I had a clear idea that I wanted to be an artist when i grew up. After graduating with a degree in illustration, I quickly realised that working to someone else’s brief wasn’t for me and so I joined an arts collective, rented a studio and taught myself to paint. My paintings at that time, were semi auto biographical, but rather than include my own image in the works, I created puppets and dolls to photograph and they became my vehicle of self expression. I exhibited for a number of years until taking a break to start a family and dedicating my time to bringing up my children. I continued to make dolls and over the years, my process and style developed. More often now, I work with clay, paper, textiles and paint to create art dolls as well as sculptural wall art. I love the variation that working with so many materials allows. I approach my work in a playful, intuitive way, often without a clear finished piece in mind. I might start with a theme, an experience or emotion, always making the face first, then sculpting and discovering each piece in the process. I hand paint each piece with oil paint and enjoy this final step, when they seemingly take on a life of their own. The faces of my dolls have a quiet, pensive expression, gazing out at the viewer. They have been described as whimsical, emotive and melancholic. I like to think of them as characters from untold stories, echoing the dreamlike worlds and dark forests of the fairy tales that I loved to read as a child. I often include symbols, thematic and anthropomorphic elements in my pieces, to help create an ambiguous narrative, inviting the viewer to create their own meaning. I am inspired by folklore, mythology and our inherited symbolic language of the unconscious. I hope to evoke this world of mystery, wonder and fear, as well as to convey a disquieting yearning to reconnect with it. I live in Cambridge UK, and work from home, in a small studio at the bottom of my garden. Over the past two years, I have been able to spend much more time creating my art, and am excited to see how my work evolves in the future.