In Fond Illusion, Newcastle based artist and photographer James Rhodes presents a body of work that explores the materiality of photographs. Mirrored surfaces and surreal, overlapping imagery allows the viewer to freely create their own meanings from the pieces in front of them; sometimes quite literally making us as much a subject of the work as those within them.
What medium(s) do you work with, and why have you chosen them?
My primary medium of photography, but my work blurs the boundaries between photography and sculpture. By focusing on the importance of the materiality of the photographic object I allow the physical qualities of the work to convey the meaning of the work as much as the image. This allows me to work with ambiguous images in order to let the audience interpret the work freely, instead of imposing a message onto the viewer.
How do you keep your creative juices flowing? How do you push past creative block?
I keep my creative juices flowing by not stopping myself from creating, even if there is a chance that the work will be bad and never see the light of day. I let the work tell me if it is bad once I’ve created it. There is a quote by Nick Cave that encapsulates this process perfectly;
“Most people wait for the muse to turn up. That's terribly unreliable. I have to sit down and pursue the muse by attempting to work.”
Can you elaborate a little more on your making process — how does your artwork get from initial concept to exhibition stage?
My making process starts quite haphazardly. Initially I grab my camera and start shooting my surroundings and pursue any idea that comes to mind. I then use a method of reflection to see what my subconscious has been drawing me to by seeing what themes are repeated in the wealth of photographs I have created. Then I explore how different materials will affect how the images are read and choose the ideas that speaks the most to me. Once I have an idea of what type of images and material I will use, I then go out and purposefully shoot the ideas in a way that is more succinct. Finally, I make them into the objects that are exhibited.
How does where you grew up, or where you live now affect your art?
I’ve always lived in banal suburban areas, and although they are not areas that naturally foster creativity, for me they are of great influence. By attempting to see the mundane, trivial aspects of the world around me in a way that repurposes them as a purely aesthetic experience for me to enjoy, inspires me to make art.
What’s next for you after your time at Brunswick Street Gallery? What upcoming projects are you working on?
For now, I will be locking myself away in my office so that I can finish writing my PhD exegesis. But the next exhibition I have planned will be at The University Gallery at Newcastle University. This exhibition will demonstrate what I have uncovered about the photographic object and its ability to convey meaning.
Fond Illusion by James Rhodes will be exhibited at Brunswick Street Gallery from 17 May – 2 June.