This week on the journal we visit Artist, Thom Lowry. Currently residing in Kansas. Here we talk about nature, materiality, artist influences and daily rituals.
Where are you originally from and where are you residing currently?
I am a Kiwi-American, suspended between Kansas and Titahi Bay. I’m currently revisiting Kansas after a long hiatus in New Zealand.
Do you have a morning / evening routine?
Most consistently, I make coffee in the morning. This is my moment, sometimes the favourite part of the day. I like doing creative work with a coffee and trying to rep out a few drawing exercises. That puts me in a good mood and can prime me for the day.
What is a normal day like for you?
Things are a bit bizarre at the moment. After being in New Zealand for many years and what with the border opening up, I took the opportunity to show my partner Kansas. It’s temporary, and as such things are not normal per se. However I am doing lots of running, catching up with old friends, coaching tennis, and stuck deep into planning the next project.
Can you tell us about your space, do you have a favourite area(s) within it?
As I am temporarily travelling, my space is distilled to a single suitcase and one bedroom. To answer this question still, I would suggest my favourite “space” is a nature reserve behind where I am living. My partner and I have befriended a family of deer we like to visit at 20:15 with corn kernels.
Do you have a favourite object / piece of furniture; is there a story behind it?
I have a few, yes… Perhaps most important to me is my Grandad’s old jersey that he would wear when working in Antarctica. I additionally have a few pieces of wood and some rocks I am continually collecting. I’m obsessed with Rimu and found beach charcoal.
What is your approach to your home space?
I need functionality and cleanliness. I'm a real psycho when it comes to things I’m not in love with, it’s just gotta go. Painting is often extremely stressful and unpleasant to me - which I’m working on improving - so when I’m home I need to try my best to relax. This is impossible with heaps of shit.
What was your journey to becoming an artist, do you have an early memory of what sparked this?
When I was a small child I would draw cartoons with my uncle. That is extremely important in my narrative. Otherwise, artistic practice was shunned throughout my time in Kansas growing up. I picked up painting and drawing again later in life by accident.
What’s inspiring you at the moment?
I am trying to go real deep into breathwork and running. Looking for peace seems to be the theme…
How do you like to spark creativity?
Being outside… So is that aforementioned cup of joe in the morning.
How do you like to spend your down time?
I am a maniac home baker and very in love with my partner… and fishing.
Are you reading, watching or listening to anything at the moment?
Slowly I am chiselling at what seems to be an endless list of old Westerns and spaghetti Western films. This list is a curriculum assigned by my uncle, the cartoonist (amongst other things), while I’m in Kansas. It keeps me spiritually connected to him in New Zealand. Although, plot twist, he is a French man…
How do you like to practice self-care?
I breathe and breathe and breathe and breathe and so on. Cold showers in Kansas, very choresome compared to a dip in the South Pacific.
How do you like to unwind before bed?
I wind up losing on chess.com and wonder why I can’t sleep.
When you are feeling flat, what’s something that brings you back to yourself?
My partner is always there, and she makes me go for a run or breathe or both. She never joins.
Who are some of your favourite artists?
Ethan Cook, Landon Metz, André Butzer, Fabio Viscogliosi, Ed Bats, Struan Teague, Szabolcs Bozó, Helen Frankenthaler, Cy Twombly…
Do you have a favourite go-to recipe?
Neapolitan pizza with a traditional dough… Or fresh catch fish… Always, with anything, do it most simply, but with integrity… For me anyway.
We love the emphasis on materiality in your work, can you tell us about this?
I like to include a token of the raw material that has inspired my final product when possible or where applicable. Maybe it’s not always a good look, sure, but I’d like to present an expanded form of my work that includes raw materials as reference points. Like an extended music track, the framed painting is just what is commercially viable, but there is another leg of work to observe if one wishes to know more about a piece. I recently was able to accomplish that with a long, skinny painting. Parallel to it, on display is a Rimu walking stick that retains the original form of the tree, bark and everything. That is the source of the painting, the spiritual reference point, and at times can be included alongside the finished work as an anchor or index.
How do you like to explore nature in your practice?
I have long been an outdoors enthusiast and studied ecology at university. Nature provides more palettes and composition than I could ever get through to the end.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am in early stages of research for a series of large, sequential paintings. So I am collecting and comparing canvas samples and mediums, taking reference materials like photographs and sketches, and getting into the crevices of the why. Why should these paintings exist? Also, the composition has been determined long ago, and so now I am preparing for the execution through this research. I am very excited to share it, and enjoying this thorough process. It’s been some time now I feel I’ve fumbled my way through finding “my thing” in terms of artistic practice, and as such this has become perhaps the first focused attempt at a series of work.