Tom Isaacs (b.1985, Oxford, UK) is a Sydney-based artist, working in the fields of performance and textile art. His practice draws from psychoanalytic theory, philosophy, religious and ritual practices, and art history to explore themes of mental illness, mortality, and the human condition. Isaacs is currently a PhD candidate at Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University, researching the relationship between ritual, psychoanalysis and body art, and how these different streams of thought address the problem of alienation. TEST
‘Emergency Blankets’ is a collection of textile works exploring ongoing crises affecting regional and rural NSW, such as climate change, bushfires, and economic uncertainty, as well as the psychological effects of such crises. The works are made using quilting techniques with designs based on a mixture of traditional Australian wagga designs (depression-era quilts made of available fabric) and the artist’s own quilt-making practice. The blankets are made primarily from recycled materials sourced from the artist’s late grandfather’s estate, such as hessian sacking, wool suit material, and a wool airforce blanket, as well as leftover felt from Tom’s art practice, and mylar emergency blankets. ‘Emergency Blankets’ is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW
Tom Isaacs creates sculptures, textile works, and performance art pieces which explore ideas of depression and death, healing and resurrection. His work deals directly with the experience of living with mental illness as well as the desire for healing, including speculative ideas about a cure that could be found in spirituality, philosophy, psychoanalysis, or even in art itself. In his textile practice Isaacs draws on a family history of quilting to create fabric works which embody love, warmth, and care. Isaacs often uses felt and wool material in his textile work, referencing the work of German artist Joseph Beuys who championed the healing power of art.