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‘Art is my language’: James Wei, creator, photo framer and long-time artistic luminary

“Art is my language.” James says.

James Wei

From Shanghai to the Australian South Coast, James’ innovation has never left his side.

He seems to be completely at ease with his language inside the studio.

James Wei's work was awarded the inaugural H.Parsons Art Prize at the Shoalhaven Art Society’s ‘56th Annual Open Art Exhibition’. With an appreciation for family and community lying at the heart of H.Parsons, there was no better way to honour this than connecting with the South Coast art community.

This acquisitive prize has been introduced to celebrate the purchase of Wray Owen Funerals in Nowra, who have held a long-standing relationship with the annual exhibition.

Alan Parsons, who selected the winning artwork, was impressed by James’ innovative technique and the surprising representation of landscape.

“I love seeing how James has created the feel of the Australian bush using materials that are so unexpected. It’s exciting to see such a thriving arts community in the Shoalhaven, and James’ work represents creativity, innovation and a real love of the local environment,” Alan says.

James’ studio is stippled with art. In one corner, a self-portrait of his 19-year-old self, in another, a modern abstract work. It is almost impossible to recognise each piece as his own.

He explains the reason for the variation between his artworks; innovation. James is constantly searching for something new. A new medium, an original style, the use of contrasting colours. The Alexander the Great of the art world.

“I love new things; a challenge,” he says.

James Wei

It is almost impossible to recognise each piece as his own.

James also applies this attitude to his life. He was raised in Shanghai, China, where he was first introduced to art at the age of 17, through jade carving; an intrinsically valuable Chinese tradition that represents purity and indestructibility.

Following this, James studied modern art in Shanghai, preceding his work experience as an interior designer. James moved to Australia in 1990 on New Year’s Day. Possibly the most quintessential ‘new year, new me’ move someone could make.

“Most important thing is freedom, to feel freedom. To have no one watching me,” he says.

“If people don’t recognise me, it’s okay.

“I show my hand. I show my ability, what I can do.”

To combat the inevitable financial struggle of an artist, James established a framing company, Ad Art Framing, which became a platform where he could learn from others. James’ customers bring forward pieces that inspire his own work, allowing him to create a space that fostered new ideas and continuance.

“I watch and I learn. I always think about what I can do. To do something new.” He says.

The medium that James works with today is a material you wouldn’t expect to see framed on the wall of an art gallery. James now works with metallic surfaces.

The metallic surface is almost impossible to recognise beneath an array of vivid colours that transform the work in to in an image of colour and warmth.

James’ humility is impressive, it is difficult not to be amazed by his art. His work doesn’t seem to be enough for him, he still seeks improvements, while his pieces, even as a 19-year-old, are spectacular in their own right.

James Wei

This is James’ favourite piece, he loves the way it floats within the frame.

I recognised that a large collection of his foil pieces are predominately green and blue. They reflected the trees surrounding the studio, the vibrant blue of the Australian coastline, appreciable features of the South Coast.

James and his wife had completely fallen in love with the scenery of the South Coast from their first trip. They moved from Hurstville to St Georges Basin. A small community flanked by distinctive Australian flora. Here, James could secure relationships with other local artists and participate in art shows, an environment where his creative processes can flourish.

H.Parsons are excited to continue connecting with the thriving South Coast community and hanging James’ work at the H. Parsons facility in Nowra, continuing the Wray Owen tradition of celebrating local art.

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