CV \ James Hudson M.A.
I am a visual artist producing semi-fictional projects that combine original photography, text and collage. They are usually commissions or residencies for cultural organisations and brands. You are welcome to contact me to discuss a potential commission or collaboration.
In my late teens I was a professional BMX rider. I rode my bike in competitions, at live demonstrations, on TV and in the circus for a couple of years. The whole skateboard and BMX culture drew me in because it was new, collaborative and there was a wonderful camaraderie. The physical sensations of doing the tricks were intense, often scary, sometimes painful and riding on the street was raw. Riding with other people pushed me creatively and I discovered that the competitions we entered were as much about having a laugh and progressing through a bit of pressure as they were about winning.
I started to photograph my friends and the tricks they were doing. This led to contributing images to magazines and then, when my professional biking career came to an end, working in publishing and producing digital media. There is a thrill in publishing: like biking, it is going to be seen, you are going to be judged, so it needs to be good.
I then progressed to commercial photography, undertaking assignments in different countries for a variety of companies. But this work was often slightly at odds with what I liked most about the medium. Understandably, most clients want predictable, clear and realistic images. But what I found I liked most about photography is its unpredictability and its blur. How black and white images close the visual gap with typography and illustration.
Being out on the street, reacting to situations rather than constructing them was where I needed to be embracing the way a camera can create images that were not what I imagined when I pressed the button. So with the help of an intense workshop, I developed from a commercial practice to a purely artistic one.
My first major project as an artist was a residency at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford where I produced a book loosely inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Blackwell’s ‘Inspired by Blake’ exhibition included my photographic illustration and short film ‘London’ and I also created several personal projects including one about a poetry brothel and another about fear of terrorism, urban alienation and suicide. My images were not staged but they did not pertain to be truthful either.
As part of my MA in Graphic Arts at the University of the West of England I developed Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1787 unfinished story ‘The Cave of Fancy’ into a new, 300+ page photo-text novel.
In April 2019 I received a commission from Ffotogallery & the Welsh Assembly for their ‘Many Voices, One Nation’ project. My response was a semi-fictional photo-text booklet describing a journey from the 14th century Assembly building to the modern site in Cardiff.
Inspiration for my projects often comes from literature, history and illustration, particularly work with a surrealist and gothic flavour. My projects result in narratives with gaps for readers to fill in. The relationship between the words and images is non-mimetic: the images do not simply illustrate, or mimic, the text; they carry equal narrative weight with the words. I believe the entertaining and accessible character of fiction gives it power in engaging a wide variety of people in art projects and the issues they raise.
Currently I am finishing a fictional project set in a very non-digital late 80’s culture and also researching a new project about migration, crypto-currency, teleportation through quantum entanglement and our evolution into ‘digital' humans. I have recently been awarded the 2021 Dee Valley author/artist in residence commission.
My experience in commercial photography and digital media still contributes to my work and although I only skate and ride bikes occasionally these days, that original approach still resonates in my current working practices.
References available on request.