Tom is research fellow and academic lead for the Centre for Fine Print Research’s laser cutting area. His research is of direct benefit to artists, designers, makers and manufacturers helping them to develop ideas and bring new products to the marketplace through access to his research, digital prototyping, manufacturing, workshops, touring exhibitions, knowledge transfer, advice and CPD courses. Tom is also a key member of the teaching team for the MA Multi-disciplinary Printmaking course.
Tom completed a two-year AHRC funded research project with Sarah Bodman in early 2010 In an arena including digital and traditional artists' publishing formats - what will be the canon for the artist's book in the 21st Century? This major study was a responsive exploration with a collaborative, international audience of artists, academics, presses, publishers, curators, dealers, collectors and students involved in the field of artists books, in order to propose an inclusive structure for the academic study, artistic practice and historical appreciation of the artist's book. All published outcomes are online including, interviews, essays, conference papers, case studies and their manifesto for the book on http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/canon.htm
He also completed the AHRC funded project Paper Models: investigating Laser cutting technology to develop new artists’ books and paper based creative practice for arts, crafts and design in 2010. A study into the long-term potential of laser cutting technology for artists. Artists often adapt industrial and digital technologies to work with creatively, as evidenced by the use of digital printing, to create artists' books and prints. This project explored new methodologies for artists' creative production methods and the potential of the laser cutter as a tool for artists working with the book form and paper-based work. The touring exhibition for the project Drawing with Fire has been shown at UWE, AKI/ArtEz Academy of Art in Enschede, The Netherlands and Northern Print's 2011 International Print Biennale, Newcastle. All published outcomes are online at http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/papermods11.htm.
Since 2005, Tom has been Art Editor for the Artist’s Book Yearbook and The Blue Notebook. He also curates the What’s in the Box? artist’s book project for the CFPR, which includes works by UWE staff, postgraduate students and invited guests.
Tom has also been collecting and curating books by artists who - like himself - produce work in the style of, and in tribute to the American artist Ed Ruscha, for some years. In December 2010 he joined forces with Berlin-based poet and conceptual artist Michalis Pichler. After exchanging books with each other, they co-curated collaborative exhibitions under Follow-Ed (After Hokusai) and After Hokusai (Follow-Ed) which was exhibited at Winchester School of Art Gallery and Arnolfini, Bristol with further venues over 2011-2012.
Tom’s recent artistic practice involves a knowing but light-hearted approach that references and mimics the aspirational work of American conceptual artists from the 1960s and 1970s. Instead of sharing their utopian ideals, his approach is more to do with the commonplace concerns - for example commuting, walking in the park and supermarket shopping - whilst still alluding to systems and processes that artists such as Ed Ruscha and Lawrence Weiner employed. His work is playful, yet undercut with suggestions of futility and failure. He works across a number of disciplines, primarily with the artist’s book format and video but also sculpture, photography, drawing and printmaking. You can see some of his works online at www.tomsowden.com.
Tom's current CV