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Freelands Fellow Mikey Thomas – Bath Spa University

Bath Spa welcomes new Freelands Studio Fellow

Thursday, 23 February, 2023

Bath Spa University has welcomed Mikey Thomas as its Freelands Studio Fellow for 2023.

The fellowship was launched by the Freelands Foundation in 2020 to help emerging artists develop their practice. Through the initiative, Mikey will receive:

  • A studio space on-site at the University.
  • Support from an experienced member of the fine art teaching staff.
  • Experience of working with fine art students, which could include participating in the delivery of group critics, seminars, tutorials, workshops, and lectures.
  • A solo exhibition at the Michael Pennie Gallery.
  • £20,000 honorarium to support living costs and materials.
  • A group exhibition at the Freelands Foundation Gallery, London, including a publication.
  • Access to workshops and fabrication spaces.

Mikey grew up in Stockport and studied Fine Art at the Manchester School of Art. In addition to his own painting practice, Mikey is part of a Manchester-based group called PaintingWriting. He explains his painting practice as an exploration of the material quality of paint and its propensity to mimic, especially in combination with the very human habit of projecting ideas onto things. 

“In this sense, I see paint as akin to a shapeshifter or camouflage,” he said.

The Freelands Foundation’s focus on teaching and learning in relation to art is one that aligns with Mikey’s own interests, so the fellowship was something he says has always been on his radar. Fortunately, things in Mikey’s life seemed to line up, and he realised he had the time and ability to commit to and apply for the fellowship. He also knew the opportunity and support provided by the fellowship would be invaluable.

“A painting or an art-making practice can be incredibly difficult to sustain and keep alive,” Mikey said. “The level of support that the fellowship provides is one that myself and many others are unable to match within our day to day reality. The existence of the Fellowship programme alone is a gesture of belief in painting, that it can put back more than the resources it takes.”

While he undoubtedly values the support he will receive, Mikey is also excited to pay it forward by being able to extend his own support to students at Bath Spa. Talking about what he most looked forward to during his fellowship, Mikey said:

“I’m looking forward to exploring the relationship between making, learning and teaching, especially within the context of an art school. A beauty of being a Fellow is that it’s unlike the conventional role of a teacher. I’m looking forward to exploring the different roles that the fellow can take on, and I hope the space I inhabit will be one that students feel safe to use to test ideas - or even use my own practice as a point of reference to establish or steal techniques from.”

The Freelands Foundation was established in 2015 with the aim to give everyone access to a creative and cultural education. For more information about the Freelands Studio Fellowship, visit The Freelands Foundation website.

More details about where members of the public can see Mikey's work on display will follow in due course.

Masthead image: 'Untitled' by Mikey Thomas

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