Judi Thomas – New To Contempori
Judi’s initiation into art came during the apartheid era in her native South Africa. Aged 17 she learned how to transform government-sponsored public art and wear the badge of an artist with defiance and pride.
“I make art that’s pissed off with the male gaze…”
Lacking any formal art education (she dropped out of a scholarship-funded Fashion Design course) she absorbed much of her art aesthetic from the 2000AD comic addicts, Andy Warhol worshippers and Dali lovers who lived in Durban’s informal mixed race neighbourhood, Warwick Triangle.
The cultural mash-up of Durban – where south India met Zulu in an ex Imperial outpost is what influences her work. And the identity politics associated with being a child of no motherland, by turns inspires and constricts her.
“My work is a refusal to shame womens bodies…”
In 2010 she moved to Brighton, UK and picked up her artistic career after a 16 year hiatus raising kids, having a day job and being a wife. The experience of choosing her art over her marriage has fundamentally informed the subject matter and delivery of her work. Just as a life-long affair with anorexia is visible in the emaciated women she often draws, so too the unashamed nudity and sexuality of her women speak to her rejection of shaming as a tool of patriarchal control.