By ANDREA LOUISE THOMAS
Bridgit Thomas is a Mornington Peninsula based artist who specialises in fish and marine themes. She is also passionate about conserving the natural environment. As a scuba diver, sailor and beachcomber she has seen the aquatic domain from all angles. The surrounding flora and fauna of the sea, bays and river systems has been the inspiration and subject of her prints and paintings over the course of her artistic career. She also loves to paint the ships and boats that traverse the ocean, bays and waterways. Her work is exquisitely detailed and her love of the subject matter shines through.
MINT: Your work centres around marine and coastal themes. What appeals to you most about this subject matter?
THOMAS: I’m very familiar with it. I’ve grown up near the sea. It’s something I see every day and I love looking at it. I’m fascinated with marine life. I was on a boat for four months going up the East Coast of Australia. Sometimes you’d be out at sea with no land in sight, just 360 degrees of horizon and ocean. I would draw everything I could see. The fish were different in each area. To me it was like painting a landscape just by painting the fish. You could see what the ocean floor was doing. I think that’s what started me painting fish – being on a boat so long. When I met my husband, who is a bit of a trout fisherman and more of an inland person, he encouraged me to keep painting fish.
MINT: Your watercolours are reminiscent of 18th century botanical and marine illustrations. Were these early works your inspiration?
THOMAS: Yes. I would love to have been a naturalist on a ship in Captain Cook’s or Matthew Flinders’ day. That’s when I think I should have been born – at a time when you’d go out exploring and you’d be the first Europeans seeing specimens from new lands for the very first time. They’d bring them back, examine them and paint them very accurately. It inspire me.
MINT: Your early training was in printmaking, but you’re also a watercolourist. Do you prefer one to the other?
THOMAS: I like both. Printmaking is quite involved. If I see an image I’d like to produce as an artwork I’ll see it as a print, a dry point, a linocut or a watercolour. It’s how I envision things. Printmaking is more involved whereas watercoulor is instant. With printmaking you have to think about the outcome of it. You have to plan it all out.
MINT: How has being a scuba diver influenced your work?
THOMAS: It has influenced it very much. Fish change colour as soon as you bring them up to the surface and into the air. The oxygen changes them. Then they die and constantly change colour as they start to decompose. It’s great to see them in their natural environment whizzing around down there because there where their colour is completely different. You have to be there to see that.
MINT: What brings you to Art Red Hill?
THOMAS: I was invited one year and I have always continued to bring work up to Art Red Hill because it’s a prestigious Peninsula show. Opening night is always such a fun night. I really do love it. It’s a showcase for Peninsula artists.
MINT: Where can people find your work?
THOMAS: My work is available at Gallery Sorrento on the Peninsula, at Salt in Queenscliff and on my website.
See Thomas’ elegant artwork at Art Red Hill, Friday 29th April from 7.30pm–10.30pm, or over the weekend from 10am–4pm at the Red Hill Consolidated School, 341 Arthurs Seat Road, Red Hill.