Tom Sowden is a practising artist, curator, lecturer, researcher and Head of the Design Field. Prior to joining Bath School of Art and Design at Bath Spa University, Tom worked at the University of the West of England, Bristol as Associate Head of Department for Communication Design and Programme Leader for MA Design.
Tom’s artistic practice often involves a knowing but light-hearted reference to the book works of Ed Ruscha produced during the 1960s and 1970s. He uses Ruscha’s systems, processes and style to explore commonplace contemporary British concerns. He works across a number of disciplines, primarily with the artist’s book format but also video, photography, printmaking and sculpture.
For a number of years Tom has been collecting artists’ books that reference, mimic or are made in homage to the iconic books made by Ed Ruscha. He collaborates with the Berlin-based conceptual poet/artist Michalis Pichler, another avid collector of Ruscha-esque books, and together they have co-curated exhibitions of these books under the title "Follow-ed (after hokusai)".
This exhibition has shown at:
- Winchester Gallery
- Arnolfini, Bristol
- gallery P74, Ljubljana
- Monash University, Melbourne
- Cabinet du Livre d’Artiste, Rennes.
Tom’s artists’ books are held in a range of national and international public collections including:
- Tate Britain
- Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany
- Spazio Libro d’Artista, Catania, Italy
- Manchester Metropolitan University
- Winchester School of Art
- Chelsea College of Art
- Camberwell College of Arts
- University of Plymouth
- UCA Farnham
- Mills College, Oakland, USA
- Texas Gallery, Houston, USA
- Wexford Artists’ Book Collection, Ireland.
Tom has been principal investigator and co-investigator on a number of AHRC funded research projects exploring the artist’s book and laser cutting technology for the arts. He is currently the Art Editor for the Artist’s Book Yearbook (Impact Press) and The Blue Notebook (Wild Conversations Press) and is one of the founders and organisers of the Bristol Artists Book Event held biennially at Arnolfini, Bristol.
- MA Book Arts, Camberwell College of Art
- BA (Hons) Fine Art, Southampton Institute (now Solent University).
Research and academic outputs
Bodman, S and Sowden, T (2015) 'Artists’ books at the Centre for Fine Print Research.' The New Bookbinder, 35. pp. 73-80. ISSN 0261-5363
Sowden, T (2014) 'Click, swipe, download, share - digital artists’ publishing.' So Multiples, 6. pp. 37-51. ISSN 1961-9618
Sowden, T, Mason, D and Partington, M (2017) Interrogating the unspoken. In: Research Through Design, 21 - 24 March 2017, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK.
Sowden, T, Mason, D and Rintoul, J (2016) Make and think: the tacit knowledge of practice. In: UWE Bristol Talks, 24th November 2016, Arnolfini.
Sowden, T (2014) Click, swipe, download, share. In: Beyond the Book Symposium, 15 May 2014, Exeter University, UK.
Sowden, T (2017) Panacea. In: Redesigning the Medieval Book, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, 1 December 2017 - 11 March 2018.
Sowden, T (2016) Shelfware [group exhibition]. Line Gallery, Stroud, UK, 5 - 27 August 2016.
Sowden, T (2016) Pagination: the Book as Object [group exhibition]. The University Gallery, University of Newcastle, Australia, 30 March - 30 April 2016.
Sowden, T and Pichler, M (2015) Re: Follow-ed (after hokusai) [curators]. Cabinet du Livre d'Artiste, Rennes, France, 28 September 2015 - 3 December 2015.
Sowden, T (2015) Ed Ruscha: Books & Co. [group exhibition]. Gagosian Gallery, Paris, France, 12 March - 7 May 2015 & 28 July - 9 September 2016. ISBN 9780262018777
Sowden, T (2014) PAGE.PRINT.POST: 50 Years of Artist Books [group exhibition]. The Post Office Gallery, Federation University, Ballarat, Australia, 16 July - 9 August 2014.
Sowden, T (2014) Fortynine coach seats travelling along the M4 (2003). In: RUKSSIAN Artists’ Books: Artists’ Books from the UK and Russia, Tsaritsyno State Historical, Architectural, Art and Landscape Museum-Reserve, Moscow, Russia, March - May 2014 & August – September 2014.
Sowden, T (2014) Tom Sowden: on book arts [blog post]. Artquest.