When he was in school, Thomas’s favorite subjects were PE, singing and drawing, and he was brilliant in these subjects. Initially he was especially interested in sports. Then a serious military accident (hands and feet freezing) brought this part of his life to a sudden end.
He began to draw intensively. And, as was common in the 68 era, he began to philosophize and to rebel. He experienced the rebellion primarily with himself. He wanted to live differently, give new meaning to life, create an individual way of everyday living, rather than chasing after a career promising success.
In Lindau by Lake Constance, he was able to hold his first exhibition when he was nineteen. Contact with artists became important: Friedrich Kuhn, Fred Engelbert Knecht and Fritz Müller were among his companions.
Following his apprenticeship as a furrier, which his parents insisted that he finish, he began an arduous struggle to find his identity. He felt threatened in his existence. He found it difficult to sell his drawings like suspenders.
He decided to regard drawing and creating as an entirely personal hobby. He began to take on various and sundry odd jobs so that he could draw in his free time. Because he worked for a friend as a roofer, he created diverse nail reliefs.
In 1973, in this period of searching and uncertainty, Thomas met Ursula from central Switzerland. An intense exchange then began between two young people seeking their independence and their individuality. Thomas was often working abroad, in Italy, in Spain. Ursula supported him, but she also wanted to develop further in her profession as a therapist in Switzerland.
Not until they had lived together for seven years did the joint desire to start a family arise. Great demands were made on Thomas’s creativity. During the time their three children were born, he rebuilt two farmhouses and implemented a major project with residential housing as construction master. Everything he learned, he learned from his own experience. Financial success was assured.
The desire to go abroad and thus change his life grew stronger and stronger around 1987. Since Ursula had to say good-bye to her mother at that time (her father had died seventeen years before), with heavy hearts they decided to risk taking this step with their still very young family. The children were just four, six and seven years old — and the parents set off in a trailer! This was the only way for the searching Thomas to reach his goal. Did he reach it?
Instead of buying a house in Tuscany, as planned, the family landed in southern France, specifically on the Costa d’Ouro, a luxurious and rather aged motor sailboat. Living on the sea was a challenge. The children attended school in France from the ship. Dealing responsibly with his family showed Thomas that daily life knows no separation from artistic creativity. He says, “The children never bother me when I am working. Without my family, I might already be burned out like a motor!”
When Thomas met Bernhard Boix one day, art dealer and friend of Bernhard Luginbühl, Peter von Wattenwil & Co., he gave him a drawing that he had made with felt pens lying around on the ship, red, yellow, blue and green. The art-sawy Bernhard liked the drawing very much. This had the effect of an enlightenment for Thomas. He decided that from then on he would only paint with these colors. An explosive development was sparked. There was no hesitation involved in the successful creation of the pictures. At the same time, the wish arose to communicate this New Feeling of Life to other people with a performance as an expression of new creative power.
After an exhibition in San Tommaso in Antibes, Thomas’s five-year-old daughter asked why daddy’s name was never at the bottom of his pictures. Since we were visiting cities along our journey such as San Rafael, San Remo etc., little Angelina invented the name Santhori = San Thomas Riederer. Thus began the new era of Santhori.