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James Lester artwork at Cornerstone, Didcot

Interview with artist James Lester

Posted on 7 Aug 2019

Stop Press

Presence is a group exhibition that showcases four emerging Oxford based artists Kate Aries, Manon Franklin-Fraiture, Jack Whitney and James Lester. Combining drawing, textile, illustration and digital artworks, the artists have created new works that question what is means to exist in the contemporary world. The exhibition will be here from this week until Sun 18 Aug with the exciting oppurtunity to meet the artists themselves at the preview evening this Friday from 6.30pm to 8.30pm where there will be live art, music and drinks. 

We had the exciting oppurtunity to interview artist James Lester whilst he was creating one of his masterpieces just to learn a little bit more about the artist and the art itself... 

Where did you get your start as an artist?

For me, this is my start. I’ve just left Oxford Brooke’s University for my final year and I’ve already transitioned into being showcased in a proper gallery [Our gallery!]. In terms of getting opportunities, it is all about who you know rather than what you know. Social interactions are necessary to get by in art, just meet people and put yourself across and opportunities will arise.

Where did you get the idea to draw on paper so big and as part of the exhibition?

It’s a logistic necessity. It’s hard to find a space big enough to work on my art in a private space so it’s easier to do it live in front of gallery viewers. So, the size of the art necessitates how I make my art and it has become an important social element too. People take more from it because they can talk to me and observe as it is made. People become part of the art and that is something that I hadn’t anticipated. I started off with A0 sized pieces of paper and now in this gallery I’m making 14ft art pieces, so it’s been a journey to get here and this is my biggest piece yet. So big that I’ve had to use photography background paper to draw on!

What do you want people to take from your art?

Anything you make, you must be comfortable with anyone taking anything from it. So because of that I’ve learnt to never have expectations for my art and I like people to enjoy them as they see fit. The deeper meanings or how just how big (literally!) the art is, just engagement in anyway bad or good. Any reaction is what I would like people to have, that’s the whole point of art I think.

Can you tell us a little bit about the other artist’s showcased?

Manon Franklin-Fraiture’s work is very cool and quirky! They’re playful social commentaries with her own artistic style and view on the world and how she wants to talk about it. 

Jack Whitney’s work is diverse. He invites you to question everything about it! Even as far as labelling his painting with quotation marks. It’s interrogative work that make you question what it’s about and why it is being presented in this way.

Kate Aries’ work focuses on long exposure photography and experimenting with the way space and light can be manipulated in awe-inspiring ways.

They’re brilliant artists to be showcased alongside!

What do you think of our gallery?

It’s a beautiful space and the natural lighting you have in the space means that your work is highlighted perfectly.

Presence Art Exhibition will be in our gallery till Sun 18th Aug and the Preview Evening will be held Fri 9th Aug from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.