22 SEPT - 12 NOV


There were many terrible things in my life and most of them never happened.

― Michel de Montaigne

Running on Ahead - is an exhibition of new work by artist Charlie Godet Thomas.  Working across painting, sculpture, drawing, assemblage, sound, and writing, Thomas employs poetry and word games to make playful connections between the visual and written, often with humorous and tragic affect.

Running on Ahead consists of a constellation of works installed within gallery space that has been lit with a soft yellowy twilight glow as if otherworldly. Collectively these works are conceived by Thomas as an autobiographical exploration of a single incident in his family history about which very little is known.  Thomas’ grandparents, who died before he was born, ran a greasy spoon called ‘The Last Stop’. The café was in Kensal Green, London and was named according to the fact that it was located at the end of a bus route which ran from Peckham to Kensal Green and back again.

The café was mainly used by bus drivers who had finished their route. Unfortunately, a chip-pan fire burnt ‘The Last Stop’ down entirely.  All of the drivers and other repeat customers kept tabs - logged in a book. The book was also destroyed in the fire. After the disaster those who owed money failed to come forward and the business was never able to reopen.

Thomas has no living family on his father’s side, and so has no means of expanding on this aspect of his family history. Running on Ahead reflects Thomas’s interest in generational memory, loss, and the inevitable distortions inherent in the stories that we tell and are told, where the real and imagined become blurred and unstable.

Central to Running on Ahead is a small model of a London rooftop. Titled Ash and Narrow Sky, it depicts an imagined building, moss-like, seemingly damp and degrading. A plume of words spews from its chimney.  This smoke-like poem explores the movement of Thomas’ grandparents from Wales to London, a decision made to avoid the dangers and hardships of mining. In previous similar works, Thomas has suggested that these small model-like sculptures are a way of scaling down and comprehending personal or collective events which often seem overwhelming.

Hanging in the space are two mobiles sculptures-  Cheques and Balances (Exchange) and Cheques and Balances (Fall). These works explore precarity through motifs which might be found in the everyday of a small café business, namely the exchange of money from one hand to another, and the carrying and dropping of a plate. The weight of the individually painted brass plates counter-balance one another so that each mobile circles slowly, animating the imagery. Each depicted action never comes to a full conclusion, the money never received or given, the plate never breaking.

Throughout the exhibition plays a sound piece titled A Rebirth. The piece takes a short, four second accidental recording of Thomas' late father Allen. This is the only recording that Thomas has of his father’s voice. In the original recording the words spoken are “Rebirth” followed by “Renaissance” as Allen reads a fragment of a crossword clue and subsequently the answer. This was something that Allen would do during chemotherapy to keep his mind otherwise occupied.

Thomas has regularly considered using the material since his fathers eventual death in 2010, but has found the intimately personal nature of the recording impossible to navigate. In this new effort, Thomas has collaborated with long-time friend, musician and writer Mike Barrett as a means of overcoming these hurdles.

For A Rebirth, Barrett has zoomed in to the sample, mining out the tiniest grains of sound which make up the file and unveiling whole melodic potential presented at a larger scale. Each second of the recording has been stretched to 15mins, with the four seconds of a brief moment in Allen’s life now becoming an hour. The spoken words become tones and the space between the words hidden harmonics. The original unedited 4 second clip is uttered again to mark the passing of each 15mins.

Alongside these sculptural and audio works Thomas presents 3 works on paper of painted mise-en-scènes in soft yellow twilight. From the Outside Looking In uses the image of the shop window as analogue to the idea of being separated from events of the past, with vague silhouettes and shadows but little details as to what is unfolding or has unfolded. Along the Night Edge and Pass Into Being imagine café interiors, perhaps stage or film sets which wait to be occupied by unknown characters or protagonists who seemingly never turn up.


Charlie Godet Thomas currently lives and works in Mexico City. He studied a BA in Fine Art (Sculpture) at Manchester School of Art (2009) and an MA in Fine Art (Sculpture) at the Royal College of Art, London (2014), where he was awarded the Bermuda Arts Council Scholarship and the Peter Leitner Scholarship.

Thomas has been exhibited internationally at galleries, institutions, biennials and fairs, including: Museo Jumex, Mexico City, MX; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK; 14th Bermuda Biennial, The Bermuda National Gallery, BM; Ladrón galería, Mexico City, MX; Carillon Gallery, Texas, US; VITRINE Basel, CH and London, UK; Assembly Point, London, UK; Nicoletti Contemporary, London, UK; Paradise Works, Manchester, UK; Bloc Projects, Sheffield, UK; Cactus, Liverpool, UK; Home-Platform, Bristol, UK; Telfer Gallery, Glasgow, UK; RCA/ ECA Edinburgh Sculpture Court, Edinburgh, UK; Material Vol.7, Mexico City, MX; Frieze Sculpture 2019, London, UK; POPPOSITIONS, Brussels, BE; The Manchester Contemporary, Manchester, UK.  In Writing a collection of Thomas’s poems was published by TACO! In 2022.


London-based musician and song writer Mike Barrett, makes albums, produces videos and performs occasionally. He has a background in fine art, design, and recent training in integrative counselling. His musical projects include Brand New Moon and Awkward Branches with collaborator Phil Swan.


All works courtesy of Charlie Godet Thomas , and Vitrine




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