Our Play Full exhibition showcases a vast array of works by artist Elly Thomas who, amidst the exhibition planning, tragically passed away in July 2020 at the age of 42, after a long illness. This Meet the Artist video pays homage to the artist and her incredible practice. Listen to fellow artists Andy Holden, Diana Taylor and Linda Persson talk about their friend and colleague Elly, and the methods and thought-processes behind her work.
Their words paint a poignant picture of an artist who displayed a refreshing and enviable lack of preciousness about her work, who had no interest in knowing how a piece would ‘turn out’, and whose studio, surrounded by exotic plants, reflected the joyful and truly playful nature of her work.
Elly Thomas (1978-2020) was an artist and independent scholar whose work explores childhood play as a continuous, evolving presence. By concentrating on play processes and methods, Thomas’s work engages with childhood play that evolves to inform the creativity of an adult artist, rather than as processes tied to the past.
In Thomas’ installations, sculptures function as toys, animated through a variety of processes. Free from finality, her improvised assemblages are ‘active’ objects that can exist in any number of configurations.
Elly Thomas graduated with an MA in Contemporary Visual Arts from Falmouth School of Art in 2005, and gained her PhD from the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL in 2013. Thomas’ thesis ‘Play and the Artist’s Creative Process: The Work of Philip Guston and Eduardo Paolozzi’ was published by Routledge in 2019. Thomas exhibited widely in the UK and contributed to several scholarly articles about the late Scottish sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi. www.ellythomas.com