James Drinkwater

James Drinkwater is a Newcastle born and based artist whose practise traverses painting, sculpture, assemblage and collage. His work explores place, intimacy, and memory.

After completing his studies at the National Art School, Sydney in 2001, James has been included in group exhibitions and held solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally.

Eyes can wander his work in major public collections displayed at the likes of the Newcastle Art Gallery and Art Gallery of New South Wales and as part of private collections in New York, Singapore, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

For James, love and family are everything. As a result, they have become recurring themes inscribed in his art.

Married to another local artist, Lottie Consalvo, the two have journeyed far and wide, travelling and living in cities worldwide, including Paris, Berlin, Melbourne and Sydney.

Now with a young family, James and Lottie, alongside their son, Vincenzo and daughter, Hester, once again call Newcastle home.

What Catholic school(s) did you attend?

Why did your parents choose a Catholic education for you?
I think it’s all they knew. They both taught in the Catholic System. Tradition played its part, I’m sure, and that the values taught in those schools probably aligned with theirs.

What is your fondest memory from your schooling years?
The social aspect, naturally – and that the schools acknowledged my early passion for painting and drawing and nurtured this. I was so fortunate that my art teachers took me and my art seriously and treated me as an equal.

How did your love for being an artist and sculptor flourish?
Growing up, my family went to church on Sundays. My parents, who had four children in tow, had multiple ways to keep us at bay, and for me, that was always drawing. So, as a two-year-old, I would sit still and draw the Catholic iconography around me. It is the clearest memory I have, under five.

By the time I hit primary school, I would frequently visit the Newcastle Library and borrow a documentary about Australian landscape painter Fred Williams. Then, it just flicked a switch.
The act of art completely enchanted me. My parents encouraged this interest, inspiring me to attend classes at the Ron Hartree-Art School in King Street and ride to Anne von Bertouch's gallery in Cooks Hill, where I would sit with painters, sip orange juice and talk art.

It was the meeting point of my desire and key people and influences that seemed to sort of appear at the right time.

Love and family are recurring themes in your art. How do you reflect these two important pillars in your art?
There is no divide between life and work. Therefore, the events and theatre of life bleed into the pictures without being too conscious of its transfer.

Your art has taken you far and wide but what would you point to as your proudest artistic achievement?
The triumph is that I can go to my studio every day, and nobody can say otherwise. There is no Plan B; there never was one.

With the other places that you have lived and worked in the world, why Newcastle?
The decision was both practical, as it would allow both Lottie and myself to pursue full-time art careers in the city, and deeply personal as we both have family here.

Somebody said to me recently, “Why don't you go to New York? Where’s your ambition”? To which I replied, “My mother doesn’t live in New York; she lives in Hamilton South!”


Image credit: Talking With Painters

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Brittany Gonzalez

Brittany Gonzalez is a Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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