Exhibition details here-https://www.blackboxbelfast.com/event/online-exhibition-james-ashe-signboard/
This December we have been so thrilled to have James Ashe. James Ashe is an artist based in Northern Ireland that works within the mediums of print, illustration, typography, and design. He studied Graphic Communication at Norwich University of the Arts, but returned to NI and has been working within the themes of politics, post-Troubles NI, LGBT rights, architecture, and built heritage since.
Thank you, James, for being one of our online exhibiting artists and sharing your beautiful work with us. And here is a mini-interview/blog from them!
What’s your background?
I’m a visual artist, I studied Graphic Communication at Norwich University of the Arts, and returned to Belfast in 2018. I work within illustration, graphic design, printmaking, and merchandise.
Are there key themes in your work? What are they, how do you explore them?
Themes in my work revolve around politics, life in NI, LGBT and reproductive rights, counter-culture, architecture, built heritage, and recently I’m exploring mental health.
For political themed work and topics of LGBT and reproductive rights, I’ve parodied infamous DUP campaigns such as ‘Save Ulster From Sodomy’ and ‘Ulster Says No’. In previous work I’ve rephrased these as ‘Saved Sodomy From Ulster’, ‘Ulster Says Now’, ‘Ulster Says I Do’ to mark my support for these causes and to mark the arrival of same-sex marriage and abortion decriminalisation in NI back in 2019.
How has your practice developed or changed over time?
I studied Graphic Communication at university, so it was more focused on branding, wayfinding, advertising, advertising, apps. Originally I was meant to go work in London, but that fell through so I came home. Since coming home, I moved away from the kind of work I was doing at university, and I started exploring print making, doing my own drawings and illustrations, and just making work for myself, and anyone else interested in it has always been a bonus.
What work or processes do you enjoy doing the most?
It sound simplistic, but I just enjoy drawing shapes and trying to form structures the most, and seeing where that leads me. Over the span of this exhibition, I’ve been trying to widen my styles and skills by experimenting with different textures and colour schemes.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
I’ve always found influence by looking up and in close detail at the heritage buildings within Belfast, and the fact we could lose them has always been at the forefront of my mind. Within my own political work, artists such as Craig Oldham in Manchester, Keith Haring, and the likes of Barbara Kruger have also been big influences on me too.
Have you had any responses to your work that were particularly memorable, or not what you expected?
Out of my work so far, my illustrations of Transport House and Clarke’s Dance Studios have stood out the most to people. Transport House was one of the first illustrations I done in my career, and suddenly after publishing it – I was inundated with stories from people telling me their involvement with the Unite trade union, and also of family members that worked within the building. Similar story with Clarke’s Dance Studios, but that’s more to do with people having nostalgic memories of taking dance lessons in there.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never assume or presume anything.