Hannah Rose Thomas

Artist & Activist. Age 24.

How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve always loved art but I never really thought that it was an option as a career. I first began to call myself an artist when I was in Jordan on my year abroad learning Arabic as part of my degree. I had an opportunity to work for UNHCR to run and organise art projects with Syrian refugees and I got introduced to everyone as the artist. I’d never done a large-scale art project before and I was actually really afraid because I didn’t think that I could do it – I was only 22 at the time. I felt so alive to be facilitating this creative chaos and getting these kids to engage in art.

Has there been a defining moment in your life that has made you who you are?

I had to give a talk at the opening exhibition on World Refugee Day in Jordan where the painted tents were all exhibited and I think that was the moment when I realised who I was and what I really loved.

What’s your favourite thing about being an artist?

The reason I’m so interested in painting people’s portraits, particularly people who wouldn’t normally have their portraits taken, such as refugees, is because portraiture is often for the elite. I always had a desire to be a voice for the voiceless somehow and now I have a chance to do that.

If your teenage self could see you now, what would she think?

I think if my teenage self could see me now she wouldn’t recognise me at all! She would not have imagined that I could have gone to these places or done any of these things.

I always had a desire to be a voice for the voiceless somehow.