A FORMER Bradford College student is being featured this week on the BBC TV show Gardeners’ World.

James Owen Thomas, who studied art, has just been appointed Artist in Residence at Whitewoods Wellbeing, also known as Fishpond Wood, at Bewerley in Nidderdale.

The ancient woodland helps people who visit to connect with nature, something that James, who has autism, feels is of vital importance in life.

The young artist, who made a name for himself creating artwork from discarded rubbish, feels comforted by and is inspired by nature. He is now a Force for Nature ambassador for the Tree Council.

James was interviewed for Gardeners' World by presenter JJ Chalmers.

"I spoke to the camera crew about my tree artwork and role as a ‘Force for Nature’ ambassador," he says. “I described how trees appeal to me because of their colours during all the different seasons,” he says. “I feel inspired by the textures and abstract shapes of trees, their gnarled roots and the way their branches spread.

“It was an exciting experience. I was asked to show some of my collages and explain what motivated me to create them and I was asked to talk about the techniques I use to create my art.

“I like to look at the texture and markings on the bark of trees: the lichens on tree trunks, branches and twigs make smooth and glossy patterns. Some of them look like lace and I like to get up close to take a better look. Some are less interesting and just seem like grey paint.

“I love to see the different shapes and sizes of fungi on trees. I like the vivid colours of fungi growing amongst moss on fallen branches."

He adds: "I was asked why I want to inspire others to value trees and I replied that I am very proud as a Tree Council ambassador to support the ‘Force For Nature’ campaign which has involved me helping with the design of their T-shirts, talks at festivals and Zoom meetings with schools.”

The day’s filming would not have been possible without the kind permission and agreement of Peter and Michelle Brambleby, owners of Fishpond Wood.

"Peter ensured that everything went well and I feel certain that Fishpond Woods will become even more popular once seen on Gardeners’ World.," says James, who is thrilled that he now has space to develop his work and explore new creative ideas. "I will be sharing the artwork I produce over the course of the next year, inspired by this beautiful woodland setting."

During James’ time as Artist in Residence visitors will be able to see some of his art on display at The Hexagon study barn In Fishpond Wood. “I am looking forward to leading a series of workshops to be organised there, once a month,” he says.

James is appearing on Gardeners’ World on BBC2 on Friday September 16. The programme begins at 8pm and will also be available to watch on BBC i-player.