Interview: Angela Thouless
Luca Curci talks with Angela Thouless during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2022, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Graduating in 1999 from Gray’s School Of Art with a BA (Hons) in Painting, and going on to receive her Postgraduate Diploma/Masters in Art & Design in 2000. Angela Thouless has exhibited her artwork across the UK and further afield, like Milan, Crete, Venice and Singapore. In 2015 her work was featured at Het Kunstenaarsbal, Amsterdam Cultural Festival. Moving from painting large scale street art inspired canvases to walls, Angela’s Tribe All artwork began as an idea for a workshop painting on old spray cans which would have otherwise been thrown away. In 2019, these paintings developed into her unisex urban t-shirt brand Tribe All. Both the artwork and the t-shirts celebrate and promote the diverse cultures of the world motivated by a love of street art and culture. Her artwork has been featured in Elle Decoration, 3 editions of House & Garden and Red magazine. Tribe All has been GQ, Wired, London Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Vogue have all run editorials on Tribe All. The brand has also been promoted at the Urban Music Awards in 2020. Future ventures include being promoted again at the 2022 Urban Music Awards and Event Savo’ which will be opening Milan Fashion Week in February 2022 where Tribe All will be paraded as ‘New Talent’.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Angela Thouless – I am currently working on more of my Tribe All spray can paintings for various shows and events coming up.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
AT – In 1999 I graduated from Gray’s School Of Art with a BA (Hons) in Painting, going on to receive my postgraduate Diploma/Masters in Art & Design in 2000. Since then I have exhibited my artwork across the UK and further afield – Milan, Crete, Hong Kong and Singapore. During my first trip in 2012 to Amsterdam, I fell in love with the street art there and that’s when my passion for urban art began. I started making it a point to photograph it whenever I saw a piece that interested me. In 2013 I came across the Spuistraat area in Amsterdam which following a decade of non-usage of the buildings there became squatted, attracting many creative and free spirits, like artists, musicians and actors etc. It became a creative centre and tourist attraction for almost three decades. I began photographing, documenting and obsessing over the buildings and street art here. Each trip back to this area for me was always different since the walls were always being painted over or removed by different artists. In June 2015 the work I produced was exhibited at Het Kunstenaarsbal and presented by the Peter Klashorst Gallery located in the Spuistraat where a substantial body of my work is influenced. In 2015 the NUArt street art festival came to my home town of Aberdeen for the first time where I worked as a volunteer. This gave me the opportunity to see first-hand the work put in by the wonderful array of street artists that came to my city and met with other local like-minded people. This is when I joined the ThrowUp Gallery, a collective of like-minded street artists and began spray painting for the first time. We have worked on a number of street art projects and hosted workshops. This changed my artwork dramatically. My Tribe All artwork began life as an idea for a workshop painting tribal-like faces on old spray cans I had used which would have otherwise been thrown away. Therefore my love of Amsterdam and my experience with NUArt has been the biggest inspiration for me.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
AT – My Tribe All artwork is influenced by tribes and tribal gods. Mixing of styles and artistic currents that refer to distant and different cultures, fusing these together on the canvas. The faces are painted on spray cans referencing my own background and fusing my signature style with the cultural inspiration. Tribe All represents a sense of togetherness. Tribe All – together we are one!
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
AT – When I graduated back in 2000 getting your work out there was very different from how it is now. Technology has made it possible for your work to reach audiences that you could never have imagined. The pandemic has also in some way helped to do this as we have had to adapt to new ways of exhibiting work etc.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
AT – Yes very much so. You are always learning and developing as an artist so any comments positive or negative help with this process.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
AT – My work is all inspired by tribes and tribal gods drawing inspiration from all corners of the world. Celebrating and promoting all the wonderful diversity there is in this world. It, therefore, connects very well with the exhibition’s themes.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
AT – My 2 works are inspired by 2 different cultures. Asia and Costa Rica.
Asian Spraycan 1: This design is inspired by modern Chinese Opera masks. The tradition of facial make-up started from totems created centuries ago times which later became facial paintings. Basic depictions of painted faces were discovered in tomb murals during the Song dynasty. Later this evolved and as the paints improved, along with the skills of the painters and crafters and the tools they used the masks evolved to don full color themes and designs and came to depict different artistic roles, different emotions and different moods. Frequently used facial makeups include yellow which represents cruelty, Silver and Gold which are typically used to represent gods and demons and spirits and ghosts, blue which is vigour and valour and green which depicts justice and chivalry. These colour themes have remained the same for ages and were handed down and refined throughout the ages of Chinese art, culture and history. Jaguar Boruca Spraycan: This painting is inspired by the Boruca tribe of Southern Pacific Costa Rica. The history and traditions of Boruca masks began over 500 years ago, during the Spanish Conquest. ‘Diablito’ masks or little devil masks were created and worn with the intent to scare the unwelcome invaders back to Spain. The Boruca believe that the spirit animals of the jungle help them resist the conquistadors, so their elaborate masks are designed to represent those fierce animals and also the local flora and fauna of their country. The Boruca masks are hand-carved out of balsa wood. The Borucas believe that the spirit animals of the jungle helped them resist the conquistadors, so their elaborate masks are carved to represent those animals. The masks were originally left unpainted, but now are painted in vibrant colours and are even more exquisite.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
AT – Very professional. I have actually been following it for quite some time so was delighted when they got in touch with me and invited me to show my work.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
AT – I think it has been excellent. They have kept me updated on everything throughout the lead up to the show and now during it. The venue looks amazing and has been nice to see all the social media content created as I sadly can’t be there in person.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
AT – Yes, absolutely. They are very well connected and I think can present lots of wonderful opportunities. I very much intend to exhibit my work with them again in the future.