Celebrity fans for cool Harrogate artist

A Harrogate artist who specialises in Hollywood icons is winning over celebrity fans with his stunning surrealist collages.

Friday, 3rd March 2017, 3:30 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:48 am
Thomas James Butler with one of his surrealism-meets-Hollywood artworks at RedHouse Originals gallery in Harrogate. (1702201)

Already Anton Newcombe, lead singer of cult US-based alt-rock band The Brian Jonestown Massacre has tweeted his support for the work of thirtysomething artist Thomas James Butler.And among the many visitors to his latest exhibition, which was launched recently at at Harrogate’s RedHouse Originals gallery, has been the comedian Count Arthur Strong.The star of his own award-winning BBC Radio 4 series and BBC TV Show liked this Harrogate artist's work so much, he even bought one piece.Like all good surrealists, Thomas James Butler works purely on instinct when creating his stunning collages and paintings inspired by classic cinema icons and 1960s pop stars.Butler said: “My hero is David Hockney without doubt, partly because he keeps on changing. He’s like a chameleon.“If I’ve got an idea in my head I just have to run with it.”For his new exhibition Shooting Bottles at Harrogate’s RedHouse Originals gallery, this charismatic bearded and bespectacled 34-year-old has once again made the focal point of each piece a beautiful head shot of an old movie or pop star such as Marlon Brando, Cary Grant or Rolling Stone Brian Jones.Butler said: “I’m a massive film fan. I have a big collection of old movie year books which I look through when I’m trying to choose a photograph.“But I prefer the 40s, 50s and 60s. Today’s stars stars don’t have the same visual elegance.”Despite his passion for art, this single dad didn’t find his way straight away after studying at King James’s School in Knaresborough and Harrogate College.For a time he worked at Daleside Brewery in Starbeck before becoming a landscape designer and gardener.As usual, Butler’s striking new artworks combine black n white photographs, colourful abstract backgrounds and random splashes of paint and/or typography.But, for his new show which runs until March 18, the materials have changed a bit.Tom said: “I wanted to experiment a little. The paint I’ve used is from Airfix kits for making model aircraft which I found in my dad’s workshop.“I usually work with card as the background, just simple white card. “I thought I’d try wood this time. It gives a different context for the photos.”Butler is as much fascinated with language and typography, almost, as the golden age of Hollywood.As a result, his newest pieces have hints of the scrawled obtuse sloganeering of his hero David Hockney’s slightly wilder work from the very early 1960s before that other Yorkshireman became intoxicated with America himself.

Rolling Stones Brian Jones - Part of a collage in Thomas James Butler's new exhibition in Harrogate.
Rolling Stones Brian Jones - Part of a collage in Thomas James Butler's new exhibition in Harrogate.