Ruth Thomas RCA is a contemporary printmaker based in North Wales. She makes original prints inspired by nature.
‘My studio looks out over an open landscape of fields, woods and the Clwydian hills. A large flock of rooks is present all year round and I watch them feeding amongst the sheep or riding the wind on blustery days. In the garden, blue tits fight for food at the bird feeders. My favourite sound is the call of the buzzards that circle and wheel overhead. In summer, swallows fly over the field outside the studio window and not far away, at Gronant dunes on the coast, there is a breeding colony of Little Terns, the only one in Wales.
Some of my latest work is inspired by these birds and the feathers I find while out walking. I start by cutting a paper stencil of the birds, then combine the stencil with individually inked feathers and print onto Maruishi, a delicate, translucent, Japanese paper. Each piece is made up of five or six layers so the resulting prints need to be carefully registered in order to make the final image. I like the interplay between the drawn image of the birds and the direct impression of the feathers. To me, the paper, birds and feathers all convey a sense of weightlessness and freedom.
I have been producing hand-made original prints for many years, incorporating direct impressions from natural objects such as feathers, grass and seeds. Printmaking processes I use include relief printmaking, monoprint and collagraph (a print from a collage).
My circular prints refer to planets, moons and natural phenomena; they are all collagraphs – hand-made prints from collaged printing plates – and in some plates I have used marram grass from the coast as the collage material. The printing plates are sealed with varnish, and when dry, ink is rubbed into the surface, or applied with a roller – the two ways of inking give a different result. The image is built up by over-printing layer upon layer.’
Ruth has a degree in Fine Art and a Master’s degree in Art & Design. Her work has been shown in venues all over the UK as well as overseas, including USA, France and Spain, and is represented in many public and private collections.