Arts and Culture

Artist on a mission: David Thomas opens new show

Written by Bethan Wainman

As life becomes increasingly fast-paced, we are all guilty of rushing around so quickly, we sometimes forget to stop and smell the roses.

One Melbourne-based artist aims to get his audience to slow down and appreciate the finer things in life.

David Thomas’ art exhibition Colouring Impermanence opened at RMIT University’s Design Hub on Thursday night.

The exhibition brings together four decades of Thomas’ work and highlights the value of painting and empathetic observation.

A work of art: David Thomas shows off his work at art exhibition opening night in Melbourne. Picture: Bethan Wainman

“A lot of people these days through mobile phones, don’t give time to experience things slowly,” Thomas said.

“It’s a slow method of looking and feeling things physically and slowly.”

The exhibition is held in two separate galleries within the Design Hub building.

The open-spaced gallery with high-ceilings houses a large-scale and immersive installation named Impermanences with works made on thin paper with opaque media.

The second gallery is a long and narrow space which Thomas has given a workshop feel to, showcasing his art from the initial sketches to the final product.

The audience can flip through large folios of Thomas’ work as well as magazines in which his art has been published.

It also features some collaborative work, including pieces with international collective, Concrete Post.

Empathetic observation: art student, Alice Mawhinney spends time observing the pieces on opening night. Picture: Bethan Wainman


For the first time Thomas’ art, spanning from the 1970s to the present day, has been showcased together.

He said that bringing the pieces together allowed them to “speak to each other” and show the cycles of practice he has gone through in his career.

“It’s important for students to see that you will reenter the same issues again and again but you approach them differently each time,” he said.

Thomas said the reaction to the exhibition on opening night was positive.

“I am heartened and touched by the response so far. I presume people were being honest when they say they enjoyed it,” he said.

A work in progress: art-goers flip through David Thomas’ art folios in order to understand his artistic process. Picture: Bethan Wainman

The artist has taught at the School of Art at RMIT since 1992 where he is a Professor of Fine Art.

For the duration of the exhibition, Thomas will also be running a free eight week micro course.

The classes will explore ideas such as attentive and ‘empathetic’ looking, timing, materiality, pictorial space, art history and theory.

He said he is hoping to see a range of people attending, from students to academics and the general public.

Colouring Impermanence is a free exhibition and will run until September 26 at RMIT Design Hub, building 100, corner of Victoria and Swanston Streets, Carlton.

Colouring Impermanence: the art exhibition will be held at RMIT’s Design Hub until September 26. Picture: Bethan Wainman

About the author

Bethan Wainman