Absinthe §2 Interview – Thomas Langley

N.B. Originally published in the Absinthe §2 Catalogue, published by Side Quest, produced to accompany the Absinthe §2 exhibition, curated by Billy Fraser, Charlie Mills and James Capper, 18.05.19 – 17.08.19, Spit and Sawdust Pub.


Hector Campbell : As an interdisciplinary artist you work across a wide range of artistic mediums, including painting, drawing, sculpture and installation. How do you approach the matching of concept and medium? 

Thomas Langley : I’ve always been interested in the inherent values of both materials and objects. I seek to hunt these down and work with them as a complete package, I’m not sure the concept and the material are entirely separable.




H.C : The use of text as a visual device, a tradition that incorporates graffiti, sign painting and advertising/political slogans, has been evident in your work now for quite some time, how do you develop the visual language and phrases that appear within your works? 

T.L : Often my placement of text takes into consideration several contexts, both the painting field/plane and the wider space in which that occupies, be it a gallery, a shop, an institution, a pub or a corridor – playing with the site is as important for me as spacial formal decisions like composition. 

Having said that I also drive for rhythm, balance and presence in the making of a painting. 


H.C : Many of your mantras become repeated across many works, including ‘Make It Better, ‘Kill Me Now’ and most noticeably ‘Buy Mum A House’, what effect are you looking to create with this use of repetition? 

T.L : I think a lot about the transference of labour, the hammering of the grind or hard graft, and making multiples highlights this notion of work.

I also like to make collections of works in order to create a larger context. Within the coupling of sculpture and wall-based work or a series of paintings individual works can function as modular components of a wider narrative or sentiment. 




H.C : Your ‘Mummy’s Boy’ series recently culminated in a solo exhibition at Cob Gallery, presented in collaboration with five of London’s best contemporary art galleries. The show felt much like a retrospective, with the press release noting the series end. Is that the last we’ll see of ‘Buy Mum A House’? And if so how does it feel to close the door on such a body of work? 

T.L : It’s been a heavy load, setting it down for a breather feels good at the moment. 


H.C : The Cob Gallery exhibition also marked the debut outing for your representational landscape pieces, devoid of any statements and slogans, are you enjoying expanding into that genre of painting? 

T.L : Absolutely, there is so much I want to explore further. Although it’s all object making, text-based and image-based slogans function in much the same way for me 


0F5A5690 copy


H.C : You’ve spoken in the past about your plans to work a Do-It-Yourself masters programme had you not been invited to attend the renowned Royal Academy Schools. Since leaving with your post-graduate diploma last year, how are you finding the transition from art school to the wider art world? 

T.L : I actually made and went through with my own almost fictional masters program, based on a hybrid of traditional craft guild attitudes towards mastery coupled with a lot of influence from Henry David Thoreau’s memoir ‘Walden’ (in which the author takes on a similar venture). 

I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some great opportunities post-RA, and it’s been great working with new faces these last 12 months.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s