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 in 2010. He has received a number of awards including, The Windmill Trust Scholarship in 2013, an artist residency at Hill End, 2011, The Sydney Water Sculpture Prize, 2006, and the Fletcher Trust Award in 2000.
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.
James Blackwell's artwork centres on themes of nature, silence, structure and meditation. Utilizing natural materials gathered from the Australian bushland and other resources, he reconfigures the materials into grid-like formations often in a 3 dimensional manner with the use of textured and handmade papers as a support. The overall effect produces intimate assemblages offering a contemplative space to reveal an aspect of tranquility and stillness. In addition to conveying calmness, the work implies the passage of time. The objects intricate detail and evident focus on process reveal a steady hand and time spent engaging with the material. The ephemeral nature of the artist's material also invokes our own sense of transience or impermanence, bringing to our attention the degenerative nature of our own physicality. Despite this sombre thought, there is also a playful aspect to the artworks; gum leaves become written text, tufts of fragile stalk fluff balance precariously on tightropes of grass tree stems. "Part of the joy in creating these works is seeing what can become of the easily discarded or ignored." Bushwalking in the Blue Mountains has become part of the artists lifestyle "I like to think of the valley floor as my art supply store!"