Blue Mountains artist, James Blackwell, has been exhibiting since 1999 with more than 30 shows to his credit including a solo exhibition, ‘Second Nature’ at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery later this year. He has received a number of awards including an artist residency at Hill End, 2011, The Sydney Water Sculpture Prize, 2006, and the Fletcher Trust Award in 2000 and was a finalist in the Blake Prize in 2003.
James completed a BFA (Hons) in 2002 at the National Art School in Sydney. Blackwell’s contemplative and elegant works have attracted a considerable following in recent years, intriguing their audience with his meticulous craftsmanship and innovative use of natural materials.
The onslaught, pace and ubiquity of change in modern life is said to have altered the way our brains are being wired. Our ability and need to adapt to this continuous flux leaves us reaching out for something concrete, something familiar, something certain. My art practice is an attempt to re-establish a connection with nature and offer pause and reflection in an intimate space as an antidote to the barrage of stimulation which has taken hold in our new world.
My anchor is the landscape in which I live.....the Blue Mountains of NSW. Here, the seasons are distinct, reliable and inevitable. This landscape adapts to the backdrop of seasons and offers inspiration in its repetition and symmetry. A value embodied in the artwork I create.
Using natural materials found from this landscape, I 'play' with symmetry and form using paper as a support to create 3 dimensional assemblages that require an intimate viewing. There is a relationship between the collecting, sorting, cutting and arranging of found materials on the surface of the artwork and the internal processes, which seek to find some kind of equilibrium and tangible aesthetic. I look for a structural representation of simplicity, elegance, and quietude. Symmetry is the vehicle by which I strive to attain this.
The elements which make up the matrix of my work represent our interconnectedness with the environment. The work is not representational in any sense, but still it represents to me, the landscape in its undulating form, colour and rhythm.