Pontefract Racecourse taking recycling to next level

James Owen Thomas's artwork, made entirely from old badges, tickets and marketing materials, which will be on show at Pontefract Racecourse.
James Owen Thomas's artwork, made entirely from old badges, tickets and marketing materials, which will be on show at Pontefract Racecourse.

With the environment at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Pontefract Racecourse want to play their part in providing a sustainable future for generations to come and in 2019 they are aiming to send none of their waste to landfill.

The racecourse has partnered with Wakefield MDC waste management depot who will remove all their waste to a sorting depot. There, they sort through the waste and make sure that everything that can be recycled, is. Anything which cannot be recycled is broken down and used in alternative sustainable methods.

Racecourse caterers CGC Event Caterers Ltd have also taken steps to become more environmentally friendly, sourcing local and recyclable products to ensure that, not only is their product of the highest quality, but the way in which it is served is environmentally responsible.

To supplement the waste management and recycling campaign, the racecourse has commissioned Yorkshire artist James Owen Thomas to create four pieces of artwork.

Each piece of the mosaic and collage artwork is made entirely from old badges, tickets and marketing materials from previous racedays and created on recycled canvases.

The artwork will be displayed at the racecourse throughout the 2019 season and recreations of these amazing racing depictions have been used on the covers of the marketing literature used to promote the season.

In keeping with this environmentally responsible approach, all of the track’s marketing literature has been printed on Forestry Stewardship Council paper.

Using hole punched circles, cut strips or torn pieces pasted layer upon layer, James’ innovative and ground breaking artwork has achieved a huge amount of praise.

Born in 2001, he started creating art when he was just 14, using discarded scratchcards that he found around his home town of Pateley Bridge. Since then, he has honed his talents and increased his collection with breathtaking collages of Fountains Abbey, Knaresborough and Ripon Cathedral. Every piece of his commissioned artwork incorporates a lottery card ‘horseshoe’ or similar symbol as a reminder of his original inspiration.

James said: “I enjoyed going to the races for the first time last year and was so pleased to be given this opportunity to do some artwork for Pontefract Races. 

“It’s showing me a way forward for using other recycled materials in my artwork.”

James is currently studying at Bradford School of Art. When time allows, he supports charities such as the National Autistic Society. Having been diagnosed with autism at the age of three-and-a-half, James has faced a number of challenges during his life, but sees his autism as a gift as it gives him the strength to be different.

Taking inspiration from renowned Yorkshire artist, David Hockney, he is quickly establishing himself in the art world and has been exhibiting his growing collection for a number of years.

Richard Hammill, chief operating officer at Pontefract Racecourse, said: “Having seen one of James’s exhibitions at the National Coal Mining Museum, we were very excited to have the opportunity to work with him and commission some bespoke artwork to promote the 2019 racing season at Pontefract.

“With a campaign geared around sustainability in mind, it was very important to us that we work with someone who is environmentally minded and the fact that James is able to create such innovative and incredible pieces of artwork using old raceday tickets and badges is breathtaking.

“We’re thrilled with the work that James has done and look forward to continuing our relationship with him in the future. James is an inspiration to us all and the racecourse is thrilled to be working alongside such an up and coming young talent.”

The collection of James’ artwork for the racecourse will be unveiled at the annual press lunch at the end of February and racegoers can view the art at each race meeting during the 2019 season.