Artist + Designer
Jonathan James is a Sydney based artist educator and stylist who works, essentially, with stories. He uses a variety of mediums in his attempt to tell poly-centric stories that disrupt notions of straight narrative and that mirror our complex lives. His artistic practice, education and work history mixes visual art, fashion and education, in Australia, the UK and the USA.
“My art is particularly invested in exploring ways of making narratives. By breaking down narrative structures to the bare essentials I research the possibilities of telling a story through character or place. Prince Albert is a wonderful character to work with. Before any research was undertaken I knew interesting tidbits about him and these alone suggested a rounded individual, however further knowledge shows that he is a living embodiment of enlightenment ideals. This makes for spectacular material to reinterpret, across the globe from his home, and across time. What would Prince Albert illuminate today?
In all my art projects I develop characters, based on friends, historical figures, or from imagination. Very often these characters, or their stories, irrationally cross time and space. Sometimes these stories take the form of text based art works, other times they’re visual narratives. Occasionally performance is the suitable vehicle. To work, literally, with a historicised figure, and a physical, historical artwork, is a perfect continuation of my artistic process.
Prince Albert’s enlightenment ideals spark my enthusiasm to enhance these through the prism that is Jenny Kee. Jenny Kee’s astounding role in establishing cherished and generous notions of Australia’s cultural and physical identity makes her a perfect match, however incongruous the two characters may at first appear, for Prince Albert. It would be hard to suggest a story involving the two of them, but it won’t be hard to create a credible and direct line of distinction between these two and especially between the ideals they both stand for.
My exhibition history includes published art, commercial and artist run gallery shows in Sydney and Los Angeles, ephemeral and performance based activities in various cities, and online art projects. Further to making art about narratives and across time I have written my Masters of Fine Arts thesis on baroque narratives. My Fine art education has also led to educative roles at the Museum of Contemporary Art and for various agencies of the NSW Department of Education and University of Sydney, all of which roles extend my interest in methods of communicating narrative. A weekly radio program on East Side Radio rounds out my public art / narrative roles.”