The Self-Reflective Jamie Crawford

Interview The Arts


Jamie Crawford, a visual artist from the UK, works with lens-based media, sculpture, and installation. His work is characteristic of an uncanny, subconscious and oniric artistic conception that allows the spectator to define their own understanding of art. Jamie painted quite early in his career but lately has turned his attention to more immediate, contemporary practices through digital media. His personal interest for the entertainment world inspired his creations with regard to sculptures and performances and led him to master a wide portfolio of work.


In the following, Jamie gives an insight into the makings of five pieces, which he discussed with Laura Scheriau, The Mantle’s Arts & Culture editor.



Untitled (2006); oil on board (95x82cm)


The staircase leads to a better place, even though it appears the stairs lead to a dark and foreboding space, I would like to think the journey ends at a nice place, as suggested by the orange glow. This oil is typical of the ominous themes in my early paintings. Motifs of staircases and forests were commonplace in those dark yet colorful paintings. My technique here was a quick and heavy application of paint, which contributes to a dense and sculptural sense impressed on the viewer.



Kaleidosphere (2007); series of digital prints (varying dimensions)


This series was a result of experiments with mirrors and homemade kaleidoscopes using both digital and film photography ,including pinhole techniques. I played with the distorted reflections, resulting in both a playful and psychedelic imagery, which multiplies into infinity and darkness. There is no scale and no information available to the viewer to emphasize the abstract quality of these photographs.



Stick Boxes (2008); mixed media light installation (varying dimensions)



Maybe we can’t think outside the box if we’ve never been inside of it. But if I’d never been inside, I would not know to appreciate the outside, either. These boxes were constructed using sticks from local woodland and intense lighting was manipulated to dramatize the effect. It communicates interesting internal/external concerns as the small constructions project a larger impression of trapped light; much like the woodland whence they came. The warm lights and organic materials provide a homely ambience to this dramatic installation.



Your Gaze Returned (2008); plywood and nails (approximately 420cm²)


Constructed using found plywood nailed to the wall, this work is a result of my interest in the paranoiac-critical method as developed by Dalí. The collected timber has been cropped into various portraits, each with their own character. I am obsessed with double imagery, self-reflection, and the parodies of observing and being observed. Imagine in a forest, only trees are watching - but there is the gaze from both the wood and the viewer. It is only our ability to recognize faces in inanimate objects that completes this piece. If we’re being watched as we are watching ourselves, there is no place without observation. The question of a sound being heard if there’s no one there to hear it is obsolete, not only because of the rules of physics but because there is always an observer.




No! Pagliaccio Non Son! (2011); film (3:08)


I directed and realized short films that enabled me to capture the essence of a personal vision in our contemporary and fast-moving environment. As an artist fascinated by dreams and the subconscious, dreams and visions appear in my work with varying degrees of literality. In this film I am portraying a somber individual having a day at a theme park full of happy people. It is pretty much a literal translation of a dream I had, being painted like Gene Simmons and milling dolefully around a theme park. Definitely in the tradition of Pagliacci. The accompanying music is therefore taken from Pavarotti’s Pagliacci when the protagonist clown is exclaiming "No! I am not a clown!" I would like to say that this was also part of my dream, but actually the song was put in purely as an afterthought.   



Ex Arte, Painting, Sculpture, Art