maven46 meets: James Earley

From graffiti to stained glass, meet the artist injecting life back into an age-old art form

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Words by Nicole Thomsen
May 30th, 2018

 

In the midst of his debut solo exhibition at Dollard House, we spoke to Dublin artist James Earley, known for his bold mural which spans the four floor exterior of Blooms Hotel, about his unique family heritage, graffiti, and why his transition from street art to stained glass isn’t as out there as it may seem…

On his unique style and artistic heritage…

My style can be best described as a deconstructed stained glass window. There’s a lot of energy and movement within the work with asymmetric compositions to create tension and depth. Colour is also a very important element within my work, I use it a great deal to evoke emotive and guttural responses from people viewing the work.

My family ran a stained glass company for over a 100 years in Dublin and my work certainly takes inspiration from my family’s artistic heritage. I also have a background in graffiti and graphic design, both of these have certainly influenced my process and approach to my work.

On his goals as an artist…

My goal is to re-imagine stained glass by fusing modern processes and age-old techniques. I want to create a new aesthetic within stained glass that hasn’t been seen or experienced before. This is what really excites me at the moment and will certainly keep me excited for the rest of my life.

On his transition from street art to stained glass…

Stained glass is very much within my genes and I have wanted to work with the medium for many, many years. I have referenced it in my mural works for a long time, so the step into embracing it as an art-form felt completely natural.

The process of each differs a great deal. With a painted mural, I design the piece on the computer and then realise the work using paint. The process of stained glass is a far more complex one and requires far more planning as there are structural constraints to be taken into account as well as cost implications for certain processes. When creating a stained glass work I design the piece, create a drawing to scale and then the glass is cut, leaded, soldered and cemented. It is then housed within a frame. All of this is very labour intensive. It is very costly due to the time, materials and very specialist nature of the work. Many hands are needed to realise an ambitious large-scale, complex stained glass artwork.

On the differences between graffiti and street art…

Graffiti is a funny one, in the sense that it can be a very general label and quite a specific one at the same time. So to elaborate, graffiti in general terms encompasses non-artistic messages, scrawls etc as well as artistic works sanctioned and unsanctioned within public spaces. More specifically, graffiti is an art movement in its own right, that works around the idea of the artist painting abstracted letterforms that spell out their tag/moniker/alias. Street Art is different from graffiti, it is a separate art movement that is often put in the same box as graffiti. Street Art really covers all other public urban artworks that fall outside graffiti.

So to actually answer the question directly, lol, graffiti is complex and can be a lot of things. I guess it’s like everything, it’s best to be well informed before making a personal opinion on a topic.

On the one place he would love to paint…

I think it would have to be in New York; this is the birthplace of graffiti and certainly still a very important place within the contemporary art world. If it was completely “think of a number” stuff, I’d find a large central open space or lot in Manhattan and would work closely with an architect to build a sensory experience where the exterior and interior would reference one another and where painted murals would seamlessly merge with a large set of stained glass windows culminating in a large stained glass piece set into the spaces central back wall. So, if any owners of a space like this in Manhattan are reading or would like to fund a project of this nature, please get in touch.

Ones to watch…

There are many! I will put forward three artists that I find to be very exciting at the moment: Eleanor McCaughey, Leah Hewson and Alan Butler. All of these artists are producing really exciting works, I would highly recommend snapping up their works now while they are still affordable. These artists will certainly be written into Irish history in the years to come.

On his current exhibition…

Trying to be as non-biased as possible, the exhibition (called Things Fall Apart) is very much a unique experience.

The space is unique, the work is 100% original in its approach and covers a myriad of different materials and processes. The work can be enjoyed and interpreted in a large variety of ways and given the aesthetic approach and link to Irish stained glass’ heritage, the exhibition is very accessible to a wide demographic, art lovers and historians alike.

Things Fall Apart runs until Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 at Dollard House, 5 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2, open daily from 12pm – 7pm. Visit www.jamese.ie for more.