James Ursell is a visionary artist with a deep spiritual connection to our environment, he is well known for his large-scale outdoor installations, but is now concentrating exclusively on paintings that are at once pastoral, figurative and mythical.
At his family home in Devon and elsewhere, Ursell has created large-scale installations including ‘Garden of Love; a giant wicker bowl set into the earth that mirrors the map of the constellations. This work attracted the attention of Spacex Gallery in Exeter and is also featured in 100 Dream Gardens by Andrew Lawson. But because of their time-consuming scale, Ursell has now rejected installations and instead adopted painting exclusively; building on the basic tools of poetry and theatre he had developed.
“I became much more interested in the space that painting offered – it seemed like a whole new world was opening up, and immediately available to me.” Ursell’s paintings take ecology and fable as major inspirations. The “She-Bear of Old England Awakes” is a line from Alistair Mackintosh’s book Soil and Soul, covering the first environmental case to be won on religious grounds. The bear represents a reawakening of an ancient yet new balance between humankind and nature, a reverential custodianship of the earth.
“Nature remains rich and deep in the subconscious. It’s an evolving language and it’s only in inspiration that you can find the next way forward. I allow themes to emerge in my work naturally. Ecology runs through my recent work, which I see as a metaphorical language in itself.”