Spirit in the Mass is a collection of plaster tablets by Thom Hinton. Cast with clay moulds using natural pigments, the artist etches the surface in a language of drawing that is searching, provisional and imbued with reflection. The marks diverge between the gestural and the symbolic, the expressive and the traditional, as Hinton describes a belonging that may be vested in a surface.
The tablets are informed through Baurillard’s notion of ‘certain density’, a collusion in the moment of creation that carries presence. Here, the maker and object are suspended in a reciprocal touch. For Hinton, who adorns the skin of clients through tattooing, the tablets offer another form of body – a spirit in mass. The artists’ lines, both gestural and sculpted in knotwork, travel between these modes of practice, as Hinton differs distinction.
Spirit in the Mass reflects the mentoring by tā moko artist Vincent David, who has shaped Hinton’s artistic inquiries. Following this mentorship, Hinton has maintained an engagement with Celtic cosmology, which manifests in Spirit in the Mass as Pictish knotwork. The marks reference Pictish stones located within the Insular Celt nations of Scotland and Wales. The artist, born in the West Midlands of England, reflects on these sites as spaces of learning and ancestral connection. Other forms proliferate too, roses grown and drawn by the artist, resonant of their own invocation in art.
With the practice situated in Aotearoa New Zealand, Hinton understands this learning as part of an engagement as tauiwi, attending to the migration and ancestral belonging that informs his practice as an artist and tattooist in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Thom Hinton (1987) is an artist and tattooist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Born in Kidderminster near the Welsh border of England, Hinton migrated to Aotearoa in 2005. Hinton graduated with an MFA from ELAM School of Fine Arts in 2013, and went on to be mentored by tā moko artist Vincent David. In 2022, Hinton established the tattoo studio and artist-run space, Bruce, where he practices tattooing and continues to work with local artists.