YabYum Seven: Victoria James

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All photos courtesy of Victoria James

Who are you and what do you do?

I am an artist originally from the United Kingdom, having lived and worked the majority of life in Switzerland and now living and creating in Arizona since 2017. I have a Fine Arts degree specialised in sculpture, but painting and drawing have become my passion in the past years of my creative process. I am a classically trained fine artist, though I would describe myself more as a mark-maker and visual storyteller.

How did you get your start?

I had the luck of having a really inspiring art teacher when I was in high school who I confided the pages of what I thought then was just a teenage visual diary to and who encouraged me to apply for art college. He was the one who made me believe in my being able to express something that had meaning to others beyond those secret pages and who gave me the structure to find my place on a degree course at Chelsea College of Art in London, UK. There I studied sculpture and was soon exhibiting my (pretty whacky!) contemporary installations, videos and objects in galleries and art fairs in England, Italy, France and Switzerland. I was spotted in Switzerland by a gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Art and had the good fortune of being represented by them for several years. I then decided to stop everything and destroyed most of my work. I was in my late 20s at the time and struggled with the pressure of needing to produce for people on given dates. I did not come back to making art until five years ago, when there was a death in my family.

victoria james 01What inspires you?

Honesty, lack of self-importance, imperfection and strength. People who are passionate about what they do and love; people who have come out of the other side of something while still staying true to themselves. Music, birdsong, the sound of horses running, my quirky dogs and animals in general for their lack of self-consciousness. The love I share with my husband and how it has shaped our lives; laughter, sadness, pain and anger. Peoples’ silliness, peoples’ quirkiness, a child’s logic; voices that can express raw emotions, fluency and richness of language. Watching an artist perform, witnessing them bring out their best in that moment. Mountain ranges, natural contrasts of light and shadow, architect drawings, the smell of the earth after rain, the smell and silence before snow, watching falling snow and putting my head underwater. Conversations I had, conversations I heard and conversations I wish I had had. Attention to detail and a change of pace. Witnessing someone being moved by my work without us having to talk about it, seeing that it brings and somehow opens something for them.

What do you like about AZ?

The vast expanse of desert and mountain, the varied landscapes, the extremes of climate and of peoples’ characters, the sensation of freedom and possibility, the sunlight and the positive influence that seems to have on those who have settled here. The history of artists that have chosen to live and work here. The fact that I now appreciate rather than feel miserable when it rains! The aroma that Creosote bushes leave in the air after rainfall.

victoria james 03Where can we see you(r) work?

My work is part of private and public collections in Switzerland, France and the UK. I also have a website and the usual social media platforms which I keep current with both my previous and recent work. I have also amassed an unseen collection of work which I have made since moving to Arizona which can be viewed, by appointment, in my Scottsdale studio. I am currently looking for gallery representation in the US, and very much hope to get my work out of my studio and up on walls!

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

A lot more creations, a lot more fun; to have experienced at least once singing on stage in front of a crowd of people and to have written a book or two.

victoria james 04What is your mantra?

I avoid mantras! I don’t like repeating myself!

If anything, it would be “don’t get stuck in the same loop and keep looking for something new…” but now that I’ve said it, I would not now repeat it to myself again in the same way!

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