It has been a very exciting time recently with an opportunity to meet Monty Don in November at the Harrogate Convention Centre and chat to him about my art. He was pleased to receive one of my original collages of a garden scene. I explained to Monty Don how the positive experience of speaking on Gardeners’ World had led to increased interest in my artwork, sales to America and commissions from different parts of the UK. I went on to explain that it had given me confidence to take the next step and open my first art gallery in my home town of Pateley Bridge near Harrogate.
I was delighted that Monty Don recorded a personal message for the opening event of JOT’s Gallery. It was played on a screen for visitors to see when they entered the gallery on 2nd December.
I also appreciate Monty Don’s keenness to write the preface for a book about my life and art. Bloomsbury Publishing in London made contact after seeing me on Gardeners’ World and have asked for the book to be completed by November 2023. It will be entitled “From Waste To Wall”.
From the rush of organising signs for the gallery to the buzz of creating an eye-catching window display, it really has been a learning curve for me to gain the skills needed as a gallery owner.
People in the community know me for making art from recycled materials. I now want to invite visitors to the gallery to share my story and understand more about how my form of art also highlights issues of the environment. At my last exhibition in Leith earlier this year the North Edinburgh News reported, “From reinterpreting autism to reimagining single-use products – how one artist is changing perspectives in Edinburgh this summer”. I was exhibiting then at Image Collective and owner of the gallery, Sara Thomson was quoted saying, “When I saw James’ work displayed at COP26, I was immediately struck by how intricate and beautiful each collage is. I was also moved by the powerful message he is putting out there – the idea that we need to change our attitudes, behaviour, perceptions and perspectives if we’re going to save the planet.”
I also formed a good link with The Royal Yacht Britannia during my time in Edinburgh and will be delighted to discuss a new commission for them in 2023.
At JOT’s Gallery visitors notice how each detailed collage has been created using unwanted items such as discarded lottery tickets. The ethos behind this is that something beautiful can be created from items that we tend to consider as rubbish.
By creating collages from thousands of tiny pieces of discarded materials, I aim to make a positive statement about recycling. It is the way I create meaning in my art.
The starting point is when I collect and organise into a manageable form all the many pieces of recycled materials I work with. I really do enjoy creating order out of disorder!
As a very young child I found galleries calming and as I got older they inspired my visual imagination. I often use words taken from discarded scratch cards, old leaflets or tickets to incorporate into my artwork. I also work with overseas lottery tickets. Foreign symbols and words will emphasise the need for countries to work together to address the climate crisis.
I am finding new ways for visitors to remember my art by having my designs made into coasters and tea towels, as well as cards and prints:
A few weeks into running the gallery, I am now making plans for busier times in spring and summer as I have enough space to hold more than one collection.
I am already displaying a beautiful range of hand-crafted wooden candle-holders and vases, as well as planters from nearby Fishpond Wood. There are also carved Sycamore planters containing Skimmia and Golden Cypress, as well as Calabash planters with house leeks available for purchase at the gallery.
I look forward to welcoming you to the gallery!