Young artist, 16, recycles his way to success

An environmentally-aware talented teenage artist from the Dales is finding success from trash by making art from discarded scratch cards.

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 4:57 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 5:05 pm
Upcycling artist James Thomas, 16, at his own exhibition at Ripon Cathedral.

Rather than let them fester as landfill, James Owen Thomas, 16, a former pupil from Nidderdale High School, gathers the cards then uses them for more creative purposes

The ingenious James, who now studies art at Ripon College, first started collecting used scratch cards off the ground at the age of 14 when something attracted him about their appearance.

He said: “From an early age, I always preferred to see litter in bins rather than it spoiling the countryside, parks and seashore.

Encircled, a collage made of discarded scratch cards by James Owen Thomas.

“I later realised how some of it can be recycled and this developed into an interest exploring my own ideas in art.”

His method of collage involves upcycling - putting to good use what most people would consider to be trash.

Each piece of artwork takes him many hours but the results are often extraordinary.

In some pictures, he can create a result with almost a 3D effect.

Talented teenage artist James Thomas.

As well as resulting in memorable and colourful collages, which are on sale online, it is also an inexpensive way of creating art.

Even local shops are getting in on the act, kindly donating unwanted scratch cards.

Most of his artwork is currently being exhibited at Ripon Cathedral until March 2, before it moves to the Yoredale National Park Centre during March and April.

In May to July, James’s exhibition will be at the Bradford Industrial Museum, then from late July to September at the National Coal Mining Museum at Overton near Wakefield.

Encircled, a collage made of discarded scratch cards by James Owen Thomas.

Art in the Mill in Knaresborough will feature James’ work from September to October.

More information at

Talented teenage artist James Thomas.