New Artist-in-residence at Gloucester Cathedral
James Wright, the new artist-in-residence at Gloucester Cathedral, is settling into life in the Cathedral Close. A small house in the Cathedral grounds will become his living and working space for the next year.
Distractions in Gloucester are few – James has no television, but does have access to the internet. At weekends, the 30 year-old artist can go home to his wife and 8-month old baby in Northamptonshire.
James was attracted by the opportunity as a chance to take stock and reflect on his work. “I’ve been painting non-stop for the last couple of years,” the artist explains, “and I needed some time away from the work but also time with the work.” Although he has been at the Cathedral for little more than a week, James has already felt its influence and is particularly impressed with the beauty of the Evensong service.
James’ works are exquisitely painted on to seasoned oak panels, like religious icons, but his subject matter is very different. Instead of saints and martyrs, the paintings depict everyday items from inner-city life: graffiti, rubbish bags, cardboard boxes, traffic cones and discarded possessions. Yet anyone familiar with Old Master paintings or works from the early Renaissance and Flemish schools will be able to make out the recognizable composition of a St Sebastian or a Passion painting. Like these artists, James too uses a vocabulary of symbols and motifs, often from history painting but many of his own making to denote the themes of the original works he is revisiting.
James Wright graduated form the Royal College of Art in 2007 and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. He has been a prizewinner in the Jerwood Drawing Prize and Jerwood Contemporary Painters. His work is included in numerous public and private collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The artist-in-residency programme was set up through a partnership between the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester Cathedral, the University of Gloucestershire and Gloucester City Cultural Services. The partnership has received support from South West Arts and the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust.
The Triumph, 2008
30 x 21 cm
acrylic on oak