Thom Roberts

"Being in the Archibald makes me happy , smiling and proud. I would love to inspire other people to become a famous artist. I would like to be an artist until I am a very old man. I would love more people to buy my paintings and stick them on the wall."

Thom Roberts sees the world through a kaleidoscope lens. He interprets people, transport and infrastructure systems as colourful multiples. A Tangara train is named Kylie and also perceived as the Gold Coast Tower. Thom himself identifies as the Country Link Express train and the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai.

Thom’s unique interpretation of identities is also informed by the equally peculiar practice of crown reading (peering into the spiral of hair on the top of a person’s head). There Thom might find anything from “holes” to millipedes, collie dogs and cows’ bodies. Synthesising this information, Thom frequently bestows people with new identities and translates them in his work.

The photocopier is Thom’s other great muse and core to his process and practice. Beginning with images found online or through his travels, Thom manipulates and duplicates them, forming the basis of new works.

Thom’s work is instantly recognisable, adorned with new features - extra eyes, noses, moustaches or ‘piano teeth’ – Thoms work invites us to see ourselves and our world anew.

Thom works across painting, drawing, installation, animation and performance and is an awarded and recognised contemporary Australian artist. He is a three-time Archibald Finalist, most recently with In the future there might be new tall buildings built by Bert, of architect Farhad Haidari. In 2022, his portrait of Mud founder Shelley Simpson was selected, and in 2021, it was his enigmatic portrait of Studio A Chairman Shane Simpson, A portriff of Adam, that was selected, not only as part of the prize but also as the primary exhibition banner on the Gallery’s facade.

Thom has been curated into a number of prestigious exhibitions, including The National 2019, Salon des Refusés, Sydney Contemporary, Cementa, Big Anxiety Festival, and Artbank’s 20/20 Shared Visions: 40 Years of Collecting Australian Art. He has undertaken important residencies both here and abroad: at Carriageworks, Bundanoon Trust, Canberra Glassworks and Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio (Cesana, Italy), and in 2023, he was invited to present at the College Art Association Conference in New York, where he presented ‘How to be an artist until you are a very old man’.

Thom’s work is held in numerous collections, including the University of Technology Sydney and Artbank.

- Portrait by Tanja Bruckner

Artist CV Thom Roberts - CV
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