James Giddy's Natural World

James Giddy's Natural World

We sat down with Perth-based artist James Giddy ahead of his solo exhibition, Dreams Aside.

Photos of the exhibition by Kitty Turpin.

James Giddy is a young Perth-based artist, currently studying Fine Arts at Curtin University. With an expanding repertoire of organic work, his murals can be found in various locations across the city, including the creative workspace Core Studios in Fremantle. We introduced you to his upcoming exhibition earlier this week, and took a bit of time to get to know the artist behind the beautiful imagery.

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Giddy's impressive series of public work has brightened Perth in a way that takes after veteran artists like Anya Brock. His refreshingly authentic style and standalone subject matter make every wall visually intriguing. On his beginnings in art, he tells us “I guess it was always there, I was brought up with a lot of appreciation for art and my gramps encouraged it a lot. He used to take me out into fields and all sorts of cool spots to just paint the landscapes… I tried painting them with him but obviously my 7-year-old self couldn’t do much. I think the lesson learnt by being there and building the patience has really helped me out with how I approach my art now.”

It definitely paid off. His latest exhibition, Dreams Aside, explores these natural roots in a collection of small paintings. “My family is from Africa and I was born there,” he explains. “We moved to Perth early in my life so I can’t really say I’ve lived there, however having relatives still living there has meant I’ve been back a fair few times and have really connected with the country.” It’s this heritage that serves as the thematic basis for his current body of work. The framed works are showcased beautifully in an area prepped for the house show, with a windowed view of his home's backyard. His pet dog follows his every step and poses politely with him on the couch; even in the suburbs of Perth, Giddy's affinity with flora and fauna is visible.

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Giddy tells us that this is, perhaps, his first exhibition with a definitive running theme. The impetus for the collection unifies each work; a strong sense of harmony that directly reflects the subject matter itself. Of it, he tells us “I am interested in the humble lifestyle that I witnessed in some of the small villages in Tanzania as well as the strong connection between the animals and land. My paintings combine these two elements to try and convey this connection. I’m really driven by photography and just the natural environment."

On his influences, he notes that it all stems from direct experience translated creatively. "If I can go to a place and experience it, see the people and animals in their natural space, it makes it all the more personal and felt when creating a painting. That being said, if I can go to an environment and paint from life, it’s even more rewarding. As for stylistic influences, I met Andrew Hem earlier this year and his Moleskine paintings really inspired me in showing how strong watercolours can be. I also enjoy David Bromley’s work and the rawness that comes with it.”

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“For most of my works I choose my subject matter based on photographs I’ve taken or sketches where I’ve altered particular elements of my photographs. I’m really particular in the compositions I put together so I find it best to work from my own images or line of sight. The foundations of my practice were far more concerned with realism, particularly portraiture, however I found depicting people accurately was fairly frustrating and that I needed to branch out. I feel like a breakthrough was when I began to expand my use of watercolour, inks and dry brush, and the combination of these is what led to where I am now. My choice in palette is derived directly from memory and emotion. I think the soft nature of watercolour as a medium helps me evoke the sensitivity of what I remember of the environments.”

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When asked about his usual process, Giddy replies “I’m not really sure, it often just happens. Obviously I churn out a lot of works that I’m less than impressed with, but those just make the better ones all the more rewarding! My days are a bit all over the place, trying to fit as much in as possible. I’ll usually paint for a few hours, head to the beach for a swim at some point, play a bit of music and fit in uni work, meetings and classes around those,” he explains. “On the side of my art, I play bass in a band called Villanova and enjoy cruising around outdoors.”

On the subject of the outdoors, I direct the interview towards his mural work, and the growth of public art in Perth. He comments “It’s really great that the community is welcoming it as much as they are and I feel privileged to be a part of the growth. I feel some buildings need more consideration on what’s painted there or whether it even needs to be painted at all, however in general I think it’s great to see so much public art coming up.”

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When asked how the experience differs from the comparatively restricted form of an exhibition, Giddy’s response is positive: “I think the idea of having the work on display for a limited time is more exciting. I feel that I’m pretty comfortable with both settings now, I’ve been a part of a few local group shows in the last year and also gone to a lot of exhibition openings to help make the gallery environment less imposing. I do love painting murals although, in my opinion, the rendering is far better in my smaller works so I’m excited for more people to be exposed to them.”

His solo show, Dreams Aside, opens at 3pm on Saturday the 26th. Click through the image below for more details on the event page.

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