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Alexa C. Thomson

MA work

Being Animal

An exploration of cephalopods.


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Print, 2017



  • My work is focussed on natural forms, and identifying the oddities within them. I aim to find the 'post human' with in the natural environment. My most recent obsession has been with squid. And more specifically giant squid.

    In this current body of work, I began my practice by drawing cephalopods solely from Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The initial drawings in this project were done from reading and drawing, as apposed to looking and drawing. 

    As my obsession continued I have worked with Archie the giant squid in storage at the Natural History Museum, as well as some of my own squid specimens (I have a good fish monger).

    I've used squid as the vehicle to portray human concepts I am interested in. Squid and the abyssal sea represent a body and creature completely alien to humans. They live in a world in which we can descend but we can never transcend. We can never understand what it is to be made of water, and live in water. We are always 'other' from our environment. And to be incapable of existing without being suspended on water. Their needs for existence are impossibly far removed from ours. 

    We rely on light. Where there is no light, squid make their own. They produce ink, can you imagine producing a substance that would help you escape danger, or catch prey? No bone, and a beak, one arm acts as a penis. They are highly intelligent and can adjust skin colour and texture to mood, I could go on and on. 

    I decided to explore and represent as best I could, all the unfathomable and foreign attributes of this alien living on the same planet as us. 

    There is something to be said for the term 'alien' too. The emotional side of my work is representative of the feeling of otherness. Further more in psycho analysis, water represents memory, and abyss and abyssal creatures represent the subconscious. My work is perhaps an exploration of the mind as much as an obsession with this fascinating creature. 

    I use several processes including photography, etching, mono printing and drawing. In any of these processes I have the same aim; to elevate the attributes I find most wondrous and valuable in my subject matter. 

  • Degrees

  • BA Drawing and Painting, Edinburgh College of Art, 2012; Foundation Course, Leith School of Art, 2008