Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research

Tom Sowden

Current Research

Tom has been commissioned to write an article by Artquest to shed some light into the complexities of working with book art. This article is a vital compendium of resources, organisations and ways of working, making it an essential reading for artists who engage with this medium. www.artquest.org.uk/articles/view/how_to_be_a_book_artist


Lost Highway 41 Revisited Blues

Tom’s Ed Ruscha inspired bookwork, 'Some of the Buildings on the Sunset Strip' is featured in the latest exhibition by STREET ROAD, a new exhibition space in Western Chester County, Pennsylvania, USA, showcasing international contemporary art and design.

Tom's work provides a British view of one of America’s most storied of roads. Street Road warmly invites you to the exhibition, 'Lost Highway 41 Revisited Blues'. Taking our local Pennsylvania Route 41 as a starting point, this show investigates that most iconic of American icons, the road, presenting interpretations of it from home and abroad.

Artists include: Gerry Harris (Toughkenamon, PA), Tom Sowden (Bristol, UK), Danny Aldred (Winchester, UK), and Egidija Ciricaite (London and Lithuania).

Dates 05/2013 | Read more at www.streetroad.org/exhibition-3-lost-highway-41-revisited-blues.html

Ed Ruscha Books & Co

Place: Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Ave, New York, USA 5/3/13 – 27/4/13, Museum Brandhorst, Munich, Germany, 6/6/13 – 22/9/13


A prestigious and comprehensive exhibition of Ed Ruscha’s original artists’ books and those who have made books that imitate them. Both Sowden and Pichler were major contributors of their own work to this exhibition, Sowden had four pieces of work included in the exhibition, Some of the Buildings on the Sunset Strip, Homeless People, Fiftytwo Shopping Trolleys in Parking Lots and Salad Dressing.

Various Small Books: Referencing the Works of Ed RuschaLaser cutting Paper models image

Place:The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Curated By:
Date: 2013
Catalogue ISBN: 978-0-262-01877-7

A comprehensive overview of artists’ books that reference the books from Ed Ruscha. Book released in conjunction with the Ed Ruscha Books & Co exhibition at Gagosian Gallery and distributed worldwide. Sowden’s work features with entries on pages 86, 87, 166 – 169 and 287.

Laser cutting Paper models imageFollow-ed (after hokusai)

Curated By: Sowden and pichler
Date: The Winchester Gallery, Winchester School of Art, 22nd February – 10th March 2011; P74 Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 11th March – 3rd April 2011; Arnolfini, Bristol, 3rd March – 30th April 2011; IMPACT 7 Printmaking Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 27th – 30th September 2011

Tom Sowden along with the Berlin-based artist, poet and curator Michalis Pichler, have been developing a collection of artists’ books since 2010 under the title Follow-ed (after hokusai), although each had been working independently on individual collections since 2007.

Both Sowden and Pichler make books in homage to Ed Ruscha and are part of an informal network of like-minded artists who also collect and share these bookworks. Sowden has been conducting research into Ruscha’s books for a number of years, as these are considered some of the most influential, and widely imitated, books for the contemporary artists’ books community.

The Follow-ed (after hokusai) collection is the first large comprehensive collection to be exhibited in Europe. Outputs from this collaboration, collection and Tom’s related artwork to date include:

Follow-ed (after hokusai) touring exhibition curated by Sowden and Pichler, with venues to date: The Winchester Gallery, Winchester School of Art, 22nd February – 10th March 2011; P74 Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 11th March – 3rd April 2011; Arnolfini, Bristol, 3rd March – 30th April 2011; IMPACT 7 Printmaking Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 27th – 30th September 2011.

Salad Dressing by Performance Re-enactment Society (PRS) and Tom Sowden

Place: Arnolfini, Bristol
Curated By:Julian Warren, Arnolfini archivist and Sarah Warden, live-art
Date: 2011

Catalogue ISBN: 978-0-956886-0-0.

Because of Tom Sowden’s work on Follow-ed (after hokusai), he was invited by Arnolfini, Bristol to produce a new collaborative series of works in conjunction with the Performance Re-enactment Society (PRS). Co-ordinated by Julian Warren, Arnolfini archivist and Sarah Warden, live-art curator, Sowden and PRS, under the title Cover-ed, conducted two live performances and published through Arnolfini an artist’s book and concluding video called Salad Dressing. The book is held in the collection of Tate Britain, UK.

Also hosted by Arnolfini, Sowden and PRS on 24th March 2011, was an evening of talks and performative readings called Re-Use, Re-Make, Re-Enact, taking as its starting point the cover version of Ed Ruscha's 1969 photo novel, Crackers. Bringing together speakers who work in different art forms the event reflected on why artists are re-enacting, re-making and re-creating past artworks and historical events.

Ruscha Rip-off, Rip-out

Author: Sowden, T
Publication: Afterimage, the journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Vol. 37, No. 6
Publisher: Visual Studies Workshop, NY
Date: 2010
URL Links: www.vsw.org/ai/issues/afterimage-vol-37-no-6

A Portfolio by Tom Sowden as part of the special section on photo-bookworks in Vol. 37, No. 6 of Afterimage, the journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, published by Visual Studies Workshop, NY. The photo essay details a selection of the books he has collected for an exhibition project co-curated with Linda Newington to be held Winchester School of Art in January 2011. Published in Afterimage online, the journal of media arts and cultural criticism 2010

Laser cutting Paper models imageSome of the Buildings on the Sunset Strip

Some of the Buildings on the Sunset Strip an artist’s book by Tom Sowden, 2008. One of Sowden’s artists’ books that pays tribute to Ruscha’s original, Every Building on the Sunset Strip. Sowden’s Sunset Strip has been shown at each of the Follow-ed (after hokusai) exhibitions, at Ed Ruscha Books & Co, Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA and Museum Brandhorst, Munich, Germany and also at Lost Highway 41, Revisted Blues, Street Road Gallery, Pennsylvania, USA. It is also in the permanent artist book collections at: Tate Britain, London; Winchester School of Art; University for the Creative Arts, Farnham; Chelsea College of Art, London; Texas Gallery, Houston, USA.

The Bonefolder

Peer-reviewed e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist (Volume 6, No. 1, Fall 2009, ISSN 1555-656, pp 15-18). Invited to submit by Karen Hanmer in December 2008, the article discusses Sowden’s practice and his research into the books of Ruscha and those who pay homage to him.