James Gray is having his first solo exhibition and we at Cafe Art could not be prouder.
James has come a long way. When we first met him in 2012 he had only recently been sleeping rough in London, and was being housed by Wytham Hall in West London. He was one of the first artists to lend his paintings to us to hang in cafes, and when we approached him about creating a calendar to bring together all the art groups for people who had experienced homelessness in the ONE calendar he willingly contributed and his painting of poppies was the November image.
Last year James took a huge step - to take on a flat and live independently, and earlier this year he became the artist in residence at Diorama Arts Centre.
I Dream in Colour showcases fantastic art in vivid colour, influenced by the inner world of dreams. A mix of psychedelic abstract paintings and figurative sgraffito skylines of London, where he lives and works.
His compact abstract paintings on canvas draw you in to an intricate fantasy world of colour spectrums, twisting kaleidoscopes and glitter, where the physical fluid movement of thick acrylic paint is captured in glistening textured surfaces. The imagination wanders amongst swirling paint to find order in the chaos, with shapes morphing into surreal creatures and landscapes. Evocatively described as ”jewellery on canvas”, “ice cream” and “candy made in dreams”, the sensuous and soothing paintings are a sight to behold and treasure.
His figurative grafitto works depict luminous city skylines and trees in acrylic on paper. Layers of painted are scratched through to reveal what is underneath, creating texture and depth. The dark foreground and brightly coloured lines give the impression of atmospheric night scenes. James loves to immerse himself in the experience of painting and the feeling of creative flow. He is constantly surprised by what emerges, and by people’s interpretation of what they see in his work. This sense of wonder and discovery is a great source of inspiration that drives him develop his artistic practice.
“My journey started 10 years ago when I found myself homeless. I’ve struggled throughout my life, but nothing prepares you for a life on the streets. Surviving each day and night, that’s what it’s all about. Not knowing what’s next. A life outside of life. First you think it’s just a dream and then it hits you. There is no comfort or joy, just pain and sorrow. Being kicked, being woken up and moved on. Being a stain on society, a piece of dirt. Just another statistic.”
“I am thankful because it opened a door for me. A path that led me to where I am. I joined an art therapy class in a day centre. I taught myself different techniques and soon fell in love with art. Art saved my life.”
“I’ve exhibited with Café Art. I now live in my own flat. I’ve started my own business as a self-employed artist. I’m Artist in Residence at Diorama Arts Centre. And now have my own exhibition at Outpost. That’s how far I have come.”
Peter Bedford Housing Association (PBHA) are proud to work in partnership with Café Art to provide a platform for James Gray at Outpost, as part of PBHA’s Big Lottery funded Supporting Makers programme. The programme provides support for artists and makers experiencing barriers to accessing the art world. Participants are supported to become creative entrepreneurs and to develop, showcase and sell their work.
Outpost – Shop | Gallery | Community Hub 546 Holloway Road, Islington N7 6JP
www.peterbeford.org.uk/outpost @OutpostN7 @jamesgray Open: Mon - Sat 10.30am – 6pm Private View: Thursday 10 August, 6pm to 8pm. Please join James at this event!