A Studio Visit to Meet Molly Thomson

5 July, 2019
Molly Thomson
Molly Thomson in her studio 2019
A single carefully chosen colour creates a lush colour field. However, there is a surgical precision at work here. Thomson cuts away material at the edges of her wooden panels. She slices through the substrate, shifting their presence on the wall from squared off regularity, toward being a one-off star of the show. The act of each cut lends a quiet ruthlessness to her paintings, registering a sharpening of intent. Once the form of the panel has been arrived at, Thomson applies tape to its edge to form a temporary barrier that she fills with liquid paint so that when dry, the surface maintains a pristine finish. This process is repeated for as many times as is deemed necessary, until the tape is removed revealing the chromatic layering that has built up over time.

Her colour choices are particular. They seem steeped in memory, often triggering deep-set associations for the viewer of long forgotten favourite things like a leather jacket, a much loved car, a piece of Tupperware, a bar of soap or some kitchen cabinets. The shape of the panel underscores the direction that the memory travels.

Thomson works serially on many panels at the same time, often linking ones that work together to create a diptych or drilling a hole or series of holes in the surface for the liquid paint to drain away, allowing the layer of colour underneath to show through the most recently applied layer of paint on top. These are subtle changes, yet they have an impact. Thomson works within these quite strict limits that she sets for herself and then pushes against those rules to produce hard won moments of colourful, calming, collected joy.

About the author

Paul Vater, Director of Contemporary and Country

Paul Vater

Paul conducts studio visits to maintain strong relationships with artists, designers and craftspeople who show their work with us. He manages the main C&C website and has developed the online shop where selected works are presented for sale.


Paul established his design company, Sugarfree, in 1990 and quickly gained a reputation for delivering fresh, effective marketing campaigns and brand identities for clients including Save the Children Fund, United Nations Association and UNHCR. Over the years those added to the roster include IPC Magazines, Arts Council England, The Roundhouse, Barbican Centre, Arts Marketing Association, Look Ahead Housing and Care, Paddington Waterside, BBC Worldwide, Commonwealth Foundation, Prestel, City of London Corporation, Baker Street Quarter, Victoria BID and the University of East Anglia.