James Nunn


Artist's Statement

Drawing is at the core of my work. Like an excavation, starting a drawing is like uncovering something already there. On an abstract level I am interested in the fundamental act of mark-making and my subject matter, predominantly the natural world, is simply something to hang the marks on. Each piece is an exploration of the drawing surface and the stuff that makes the mark, be it ink, charcoal, pastel or whatever comes to hand. In the process of printmaking the metaphor is extended as I literally cut away the surface to create the image. I love the process and the uncertainty of what will be revealed. However clear one’s intentions, there are always surprises.

My most recent work brings together these formal preoccupations with the recurring subject of the natural world and endangered species. The process of making the work, cutting it out of a surface, is like excavating something from a lost world. In the printing process this notion of ink on the page, analogous with book production, makes the medium active in the meaning of the work – the vehicle for something lost, existing only in the memory, immortalised in books. 


I am a British artist, born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1973. My work sells all over the world and I regularly exhibit in London and my home city of Bath. I am a self-taught artist. I last studied art in secondary school. I studied English and American Literature and then went on to gain a Masters degree in the Writing and Transmission of Contemporary Poetry (both at the University of Manchester). A career in book publishing followed but my more natural instinct to communicate visually drew me to the graphic side of the industry and I became a book designer and illustrator. I have designed and illustrated thousands of books and for the last 12 years I have combined this with my own practice as a fine artist. The two disciplines inform and nourish each other. My art helps my illustration avoid cliché and conformity, while my illustration lends themes and forms to my fine art and often the mistakes and experiments from illustrations will form the basis for new standalone work.