J A M E S B L A K E
A HISTORY OF CREATIVITY & OBSERVATION
"life is once ~ forever" Henri Cartier~Bresson
Welcome ... James Blake has travelled all around England, Europe, The Balkans, The Mediterranean, North Africa, North & Central America and New Zealand in pursuit of his love of music, art and photography. Previous to music, art and photography James studied Public Media, Communications & Cultural Studies at Trinity & All Saints College, Leeds University and Fine Art Sculpture at the West Wales School of Art, as well as working as an artist, as a graphic and web designer and as a dj / club promoter. James was educated in England but was very fortunate to have spent his childhood growing up in Malta and Dubai, with visits to South East Asia, Europe and Scandinavia with his parents.
This website contains links to all of James' music mixes from 1993-2003 and 2007-2011, art and design books from 1993-2003, photography books and film ideas from 2005, 2007 & 2011, photography books from 2011-2019 and (art) history books since 2020. Sadly nothing has survived from a year spent in Cornwall (2004), or has survived from a 6,000km journey taken in America (2006) and also nothing for the three years spent in New Zealand (2008-2010). All of the work has been made presentable / re-presentable between 2018 and 2021. The music, art and design, travel, photography and (art) history are all interlinked as 'two halves of the same coin'. A balance of creativity and observation.
James is also a member of WPO and Lightstalkers and his work has featured in The Courier (UK), The Kent Messenger (UK), Kent On Sunday (UK), Cyprus Weekly (Cyprus), Options Newspaper (Cyprus), Sunday Mail (Cyprus), Mondo In Tasca (Italy), Guida Viaggi (Italy), Globetrotter Magazine (Italy), De Duinstreek (Holland) and The Photographer's Mail (New Zealand). James' work has been exhbited in Holland ("Unique abstract expressionism"), Cyprus ("Extraordinary","Spectacular","Stunning","Amazing","Beautiful") and New Zealand.
(Art) History (2019-2021)
Since 2019 (due to an accidental observation made in a cathedral in Tarragona, Spain) James has been working on some new (art) history projects* - The Failed Future The End Of Heaven : The Last Thousand Years Of European History & Art The Biology Of Pre-Columbian Art : Ancient Signs, Symbols And Motifs The Biology Of Eastern Art : Ancient Signs, Symbols And Motifs The Biology Of Pre-Christian Art : Ancient Signs, Symbols And Motifs (*most of the photographs in these five art history books were NOT TAKEN by James but were sourced from public domain images) and The Biology Of Christian Art : Ancient Signs, Symbols And Motifs
The Art Of Life : Memory & Immortality In Art & Life Making Notes : In The Margins Of Life Prague : City Of Saints Only For The Masses : Figurative Street Art & Stained Glass France : From Calais To Cerbere Everyday People, Everyday Lives Broken Smiles : Destruction, Desloation & Decay Spain : From La Sue D'Urgell To Ayamonte Figurative Sculpture : In England & Mainland Europe A New Foreign Land : England (From Sunderland To Poole) Cyprus : Impressions From A Mediterranean Island III (Extras) Cyprus : Impressions From A Mediterranean Island II Cyprus : Impressions From A Mediterranean Island I
In 2012 James moved to Cyprus and spent the next three years photographing the island, resulting in three books and two exhibitions that were very well recieved in the media there. Between 2015 and 2019 James spent the majoirty of his time in England, France and Spain (with visits to Wales, Holland, Belgium, Andorra and Portugal) and as well as doing books on those countries James also focused his camera on Figurative Sculpture, everyday people and Figurative Street Art. Whilst in Spain and focusing on Figurative Sculpture James made an accidental observation in Tarragona Catherdral which lead to a change of direction from observational photography to photographic art history / history (see above).
New Book :
Once upon a time we had a holiday home in the mountains: ringing church bells punctuated the hours, goats pushed and paraded down the narrow streets, the smell of zivania from the still enough to make you feel quite tipsy. This, to me, was the true Cyprus, an island where black-clad grandmothers crocheted under the lemon trees while their husbands drank sketo in the sun. And until recently, it was a way of life that I thought had been lost. But I’ve been proven wrong: the true Cyprus still exists, if you know where and how to look – and it’s all been captured on film in a new exhibition entitled Impressions of a Mediterranean Island. James Blake is the photographer, and though he hasn’t been long on the island, his love for every facet of the landscape, the architecture and – most importantly – the people shines out of every one of his 140 images. “Cyprus is a beautiful and fascinating island for any visitor, with an incredible history dating back 9,000 years,” says this world-traveller, a man who has lived and worked in all four corners of the globe, but his favourite place to photograph, he professes, is definitely Cyprus. “I love history, and there’s so much of it here,” he says. “Greek, Roman, Persian. Crusader castles and Byzantine churches, Gothic cathedrals and Venetian cities. There’s always somewhere to go and something to see on this island. It’s like a history book.”
But despite his love of his newfound surroundings, he admits that it’s the actual inhabitants of the island who really inspire his work: “The Cypriot people are fascinating and so friendly,” he says warmly. “It makes it easier to approach them, not only to photograph them but also to chat to them and learn about their lives. They have so much character,” he adds. “You could take a picture of a landscape, a building, and it would probably be the same in 200 years, but the people are truly unique in the moment.”
Having studied art and sculpture, graphic and web design, James clearly has a strong creative bent which he believes helps in his work: “I think I have an informed eye for something that might become a picture,” he muses. “Most of my work is pretty spontaneous, I don’t tend to sit around for hours trying to get each shot absolutely right. I just walk down the street and think ‘that looks good!’. Not only has James worked all over the world, he’s also published three books of his photography. The first, On the Road was “a starting point,” he says, “photographs from the places I’d been, South Africa, Morocco, the Americas.” While the second focused more on the locals of the various countries, it’s the third of his publications that’s particularly relevant to Cyprus.
The book shares its name and subject with his latest exhibition, Impressions of a Mediterranean Island, and in it one feels he has captured the true Cyprus: “It’s the whole island,” he says. “And though a lot of it is the people, there’s everything from landscapes to lizards and monasteries to mosaics.”
And perhaps a fresh perspective is what we jaded residents really need to rekindle our love for the country, a fresh eye to see what we’re all missing: “The exhibition is a reflection, I think, of how much I love Cyprus,” James concludes. “There’s no pretension to it, I’m not trying to be a great artist. It’s just about sharing what I’ve seen of this wonderful island and its people.” And with Impressions Of A Mediterranean Island - the exhibition and the book of the same name - James seems to have captured the real Cyprus.
In 2004 James got into travelling and taking photos (A Journey Through Series) for two years and in 2007 James moved to London and continued taking photos (London (Revisited)) and mixing music (Soundscapes Of A City I-IV) and started studying documentary film at the BFI. James was thinking about making a film about the history of rave (From Senegal To Sunrise). That never happened as James moved to New Zealand in 2008 for three years. In 2011 James returned to taking photos (in England, France and Cyprus) and mixing mixes (Restructured Soundspaces I & II) and also did an 'exercise in editing' film (Strange Worlds (Test)) as well as a short ambient film about Gatwick Airport's North Terminal (The Departure Lounge).
Mixes, Photography (& Film) (2005, 2007 & 2011)
The Departure Lounge (Short Film) Strange Worlds : (Test) (Film Edit) Restructured Soundspaces I & II (Book) Restructured Soundspaces I & II (Mixes) New Zealand (Lost) Soundscapes Of A City I-IV (Book) Soundscapes Of A City I - IV (Mixes) Electro City (Mix) London : (Revisited) America : From New York To Charlotte To Miami (Lost) A Journey Though : Mexico & Guatemala A Journey Though : Eastern Europe A Journey Though : Morocco & The Western Sahara Cornwall (Lost)
All of James' music mixes, fine art (sculpture) and graphic and web design works, were created whilst James lived in Cranbrook and Hastings (England), Carmarthen (Wales), Tunbridge Wells (England), Alkmaar (Holland) and Battle and Brighton (England) between 1993 and 2003.
*Some work for 'In Search Of Silence' was taken in 2004 and 2005 and again in 2008 whilst James was living in New Zealand (where an exhibition for the work was also held in that same year).
The mixes were inspired by going to random field and wharehouse parties in the early 1990's and clubs like Back II Basics (Leeds), Angels (Burnley), The Church (Nottingham), Club UK (London), The Escape (Brighton), The Crypt (Hastings), Babealicious (Hastings), The Que Club (Birhmingham) and by mixes mixed by Dave Seaman, John Digweed and Sasha . *Some of the mixes were mixed in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2018. The fine art sculpture was initially inspired by Ben Nicholson, Sol Le Witt, Anthony Caro, Kenneth Snelson and Dan Flavin. Like everything else here on this website (and blog) it was recovered, repaired, recreated, remixed and made presentable in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Below - Zeropilot (Imperfectly Human) is a 24 hour long (plus 2 bonus hours) mix collection. Mixes 001 - 012 represent a club night out (as experienced up to 2003) and mixes 013 - 026 represent the following chill out day (as experience up to 2018), all 26 hours work as a single 'weekend' musical experience.
Below left - Zeropilot (Live Amateur DJ) is a different, randomly mixed, collection of James' other mixes James mixed between 1993 & 2003. Listen to ... Imperfectly Human (Mixcloud) & Live Amateur DJ (Mixcloud).
Mixes, Art & Design (1993-2003)*
Zeropilot : Imperfectly Human Zeropilot : Imperfectly Human (Mixes) Zeropilot : Live Amateur DJ Zeropilot : Live Amateur DJ (Mixes) Qube : Soundship (Track) Audiotecture : IV Audiotecture : III Audiotecture : II Audiotecture : I Zeropilot : Structure Restructured Zeropilot : Structure Restructured (Mix) Qubicspace Qubic Design : (Etc) Conceptual Art In Search Of Silence Club Nights (Inc. 'Flow:;tation' Exhibition) Fine Art Sculpture (Designs) : III Fine Art Sculpture (Designs) : II Fine Art Sculpture (Designs) : I
Flow:;tation. An Exhibition of Illustrations and Paintings executed in 1997 and held in Bergen, Holland that was described as 'unique abstract surealism'. The works were based on backdrop designs James created for his club nights ('Signs Of Life', 'Altered' & 'Brassik Park') from Carmarthen, Wales and Tunbridge Wells, England. The exhibition was mentioned on the front page of The Duinstreek.
(Art) History (Current Projects)
The Failed Future
The End Of Heaven : The Last Thousand Years Of European History And Art
The Biology Of Pre-Columbian Art : Ancient Signs, Symbols And Motifs
The Biology Of Eastern Art : Ancient Signs, Symbols And Motifs
The Biology Of Pre-Christian Art : Ancient Signs, Symbols And Motifs
The Biology Of Christian Art : Ancient Signs, Symbols And Motifs
Photography (& Film)
New Zealand : Land Of The Long White Cloud
From Senegal To Sunrise : The Spiritual Roots Of Rave
America : From New York To Charlotteville To Miami
Cornwall : King Arthur's Country
Art & Design
Zeropilot : Structure Restructured
(2002 & 2020)
Soundscapes Of A City (I)
Imperfectly Human (Night & Day)
(2002 & 2020)
Live Amateur DJ
"It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at this moment. The present is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time. You, too, are your past; often your face is your autobiography; you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had; all these are accumulated in your memory, your body, your character, your soul. So with a city, a country, and a race; it is it's past, and cannot be understood without it."
A note on this webpage - This webpage (and blog) is not a complete portfolio but instead contains just a number of examples of the various things James has done over the years
and sadly there is nothing to show for a year spent in Cornwall (2004), or a 6,000km journey taken in America (2006) and nothing for 3 years spent in New Zealand (2008-2010).
At the moment James is currently based in ... Cranbrook, England.
If you wish to leave a comment and response you can by clicking on the ‘About‘ button on James' blog.
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