James Tomlinson is an artist living and working in Rye East Sussex. Generally working in the medium of oil & acrylic paint with the occasional shake of a spray can!
1985, I remember catching the 51 bus to Orpington High Street and getting my hands on my own copy of ‘Subway Art’ – the iconic photo journal on New York subway graffiti featuring the infamous artists; Dondi, Seen, Kase, Skeme etc showcasing their art like rebels for the world to see. It was my bible and inspiration through my teenage years and beyond.
I was transported!
Not just by the brash, in your face, raw artwork but on every sensory level of the scene. Attitude, expression, music, youth culture, voice, honesty, artists and characters I was in awe of. It was all there.
Inspiration meant I soon developed my own style and practised on the streets of Orpington and Bromley with like minded young artists, Uni, Vanz, and Reem. We became ‘USA’ (Un Stoppable Artists!)
From early childhood I was fascinated by anything that flew. As kids we explored and enacted battles up in Cuckoo Woods in High Elms. I saw my first treecreeper whilst being a soldier holding the fort (a fallen oak!). Birds were always around us in the woods and surrounding meadows.
As an adult whilst living in Devon I remember buying an old Helms Field Guide in a charity shop. It resulted in hours spent observing Buzzards whilst they soared on the thermals and my first sighting of a hobby hunting around the riverside meadows for dragon flies. A beautiful new world had now opened up to me with infinite discoveries ahead.
Now living in Rye, East Sussex, I love birdwatching in the surrounding beautiful country side and volunteer for the Friends of Rye Harbour nature reserve, one of my favourite local areas.
9-11 proved to be a big changing point in our lives. For me in particular it was the way human ideals clashed with such heartbreaking consequences.
It made me realise that the world had moved too fast, that we were creating another monster…..war! Had we not learnt from the last wars?
I started to lean back to my graffiti past to use it as a platform to exercise my frustrations, we were just bystanders in the chaos being played out on our TV screens. I painted ‘History teaches us nothing’ in 2012 after sketching it out in 2006 showing the two soldiers with horns in front of a Swastika with the message in white dripping over the insignia.
In 2016 I was asked by the lovely Jason and Jo Dorey (who have become great friends ) if I would be interested in doing an exhibition for the opening of their shop ‘Ethel loves me’, which promotes local creatives in the Rye and East Sussex Area. This was my first exhibition, and thankfully very well received.
Gradually my style evolved from the political and sometimes quirky, happy scenes from my past youthful memories, to graffiti backdrops with birds taking centre stage.
I painted Feral in 2019 which shows two pigeons flying in front of a graffiti backdrop. My two passions had merged into one , the ‘Feral’ series began and my style continues to evolve.
Rye, East Sussex
(especially of an animal) in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication.