In the year that Barnados revealed that one in five British families are unable to afford a trip to the seaside, Samuel Thomas’ work shows why such visits are a vital balm to the tired soul and body.
Combining pop art, Art Deco and psychedelic styles, Thomas’s paintings are joyous and unencumbered bursts of light, water and flowers. Mainly but not exclusively of East Anglian scenes, they beckon the viewer towards their seductive new Jerusalems of simple pleasures: watching an air display (Hand in Hand), sitting on a beach (Sunburst Over Breakwater) and walking through a cliff top field (Poppyland in Cromer).
Working mainly in acrylic on canvas, the painter certainly offers us what we most yearn for on a British holiday and not just the pampered middle classes on some retro-special excursion to the 1950s.
These are not backward-looking pastiches, but aspirational projections of the self into a better future; a little like Dorothy stepping into Technicolor for the first time.
In Summer in Cromer the three descending gulls draw the eye towards the faraway pier and the promise of fun as well as the sun burning in variegated shades through the clouds.
From the Balcony shows a woman her face partially hidden maybe looking at the sun or perhaps she is having a well-earned snooze.
Coming inland, Thomas offers vistas of rural calmness, but also the happy hustle-bustle of cities, including the elevating Norwich – A Fine City.
Thomas also reminds us that the sea is a place of work for some. In Fishermen of Cromer, a boat is manhandled out to sea, its lines and that of the tractor bleeding perfectly into puddles in the foreground.