Fern Thomas is based out of Swansea, Wales, UK. Rooted in the processes and principles of Social Sculpture, her work explores the potency and transformational capacities of the image in its broadest sense and interrogates her relationship with the ecological, archetypal, and mythological world. Manifesting in action – live or documented – her process-led and intuitive explorations often take the form of a physical interaction or ‘meeting’ between herself and a place, a dream, a history or another being.
Thomas is the winner of Mostyn Open (2011), was a recipient of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Award (2011/2012), was awarded the Interdisciplinary Arts Prize (2013) at Oxford Brookes University for her work during her Masters in Social Sculpture, and received a Creative Wales Award in 2014 to support her ongoing research into participatory forms and their relationship with sustainability. Thomas received her MA in Social Sculpture from Oxford Brookes University, working with Shelley Sacks, where she developed the post-apocalyptic research unit Institute for Imagined Futures & Unknown Lands.
She co-initiated the collaborative and pedagogical groups Art’s Birthday Wales and Forever Academy, works closely with her key collaborator Owen Griffiths, and is a member of the Social Sculpture Research Unit based in Oxford, UK.
From the Watchtower
The Sea and We;
A love affair
From the Watchtower will see the transformation of citizen into learner/observer into active participant. Expanding on a woman’s daily practice of watching the sea from her top floor flat overlooking Swansea Bay, the Watchtower will be activated by the use of a high stool by the window to sit on and the day-long focus and observation (sometimes with binoculars, sometimes without) of the sea.
Across several weeks full days will be dedicated to the act of observing the sea. This act of considered mindfulness will attempt to focus on the sea only, without distraction, holding the image of, and also ‘being with’, the sea. This will provide the space to notice the shifting tides, the changing colours of the sea and also things about the sea which the woman does not yet understand.
At the end of each day observations and thoughts will be transformed into a spoken word / sonic interpretation of the day which will then be made available on the online From the Watchtower Radio Station.
Although in essence a lonely process, with connotations of a future world where a person sits looking at the sea for something yet unknown, this research will extend to include other women who live on the same hill. They will be invited to contribute their thoughts and experiences of having a daily relationship with this body of water visible from their homes. Pre-established contact with others who have a relationship with the sea such as academics working with climatic change and oceanography at Swansea University will form a bank of expertise to call upon at appropriate times during the process (forms of contact and evidence of dialogue to be confirmed).
There will be a resulting sound archive available online as part of the radio station and a small publication will also act a document of the process. This will be printed by Like Lichen a small handmade publishing press and will be the first publication by this press.