Tell us a little bit about what you do.

I’m a multidisciplinary artist primarily working in paint and film at the moment. I’m interested in layering and juxtaposing imagery to combine messaging and surprise myself and the viewer. Over the last few years, I’ve really enjoyed diving deeper into my painting and visual art practice and showing in Sydney, Melbourne, and Los Angeles. Painting has always been a part of my creative practice but during a gap between film shoots a few years back I threw myself into a body of new work and it would be fair to say it kind of took me over…


You’ve just moved into one of our studio spaces in St. Leonards, how do you think your new space might affect what you are creating?

Yes and I’m really excited about this space. I think having a dedicated space right now to make art while the world turns inside out, is going to be so important. I have found quarantine (after coming home), lockdown, and then relative freedom to be an unsettling and existentially disturbing time, only made better by being able to create. I’ve got fresh canvas up and once my virtual show ‘The Great Pause’ launches this Thursday I’m excited to dive into a new body of work. My space is quite clean and I have some natural light but not too much that I’ll get distracted by the outside world. I think that space to focus and imagine what will be… that’s going to be vital! 


In one word tell us what your art is about.



What is exciting you most about your practice right now?

I think right now for me, my practice is wide open which is really exciting. Unlike some folk, I get really excited by a clean slate! My residency in France earlier in the year allowed me to explore new work without the pressures of everyday life and I’ve uncovered a number of directions that I want to dig into a little more as I move forward. That’s exciting to me.

What’s the biggest challenge for you as an artist?

To keep going. I mean, I’m one of those people that doesn’t have a choice. I’m wired that way so I simply have to make. But I think the big challenge is to keep making consistently, in a disciplined way, allowing new inspirations to arrive when they choose. Also the big, honest question we’re all faced with as we work - “Is it any good?” - that’s always a challenge to move past that and just ‘do the work’. To move past the ‘resistance’ and keep trying to be better at your craft than you were yesterday. To see what’s possible. To see where you could take it. That always gets me up in the morning. 


What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started?

That there will never be a moment when you ‘arrive’. That as a human and an artist you are always coming to new moments of ‘arrival’, and then pushing off again from land into the uncharted waters searching and hoping for that next moment of ‘arrival’ and then it will pass. And you must, as the old saying goes, ‘chop wood and carry water'. So don’t wait for anyone to give you permission. Start the work where you are with what you’ve got and got busy creating!   


What cultural or social activities are you craving right now?

I’m craving live music right now. I’m craving that shared experience of a communal creative event. I’ve almost forgotten what that feels like! 

What’s the most memorable show you’ve been to?

When I think of a show I always think of a concert for some reason. I think the Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumours’ line up in Los Angeles, California in 2014 when they played with Christine McVie again for the first time in like 14 years. That was epic. I saw it twice! 

Who are you missing the most right now?

My partner who is stuck in Los Angeles due to travel restrictions (she’s American). I was flying back to Aus from a painting residency in France when they shut our borders with only 24 hrs notice and she was denied access to get on a plane from LA by the Australian border force, despite the fact we’re a de facto partnership. It’s been a devastating and lonely 6 months, we miss each other terribly every day. She is an inspiration to me, often my muse, my love, and my greatest support. My creative practice, in some ways, has been consoling for me during this ‘lost’ time. I am reminded by friends every so often that I’m lucky to have someone to miss, and I suppose that’s right.

If you could speak to your 12-year-old self, what advice would you give?

Don’t listen to ‘experts’, ever. Be respectful but do things your way and keep pushing your vision. You’re gonna be way ahead of people who will tell you they know better, and they will eventually understand your vision but only when you’ve made it and put it into the world. Trust your gut, kid!  



Find out more about James Cooper at



Virtual show “The Great Pause”: