Brief Bio

After graduating in 2002 with an MA Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, James worked in the gallery and museums sector, before returning to a regular art practice 17-years later. Since then, he has been shortlisted for the Bridget Riley Fellowship (2023-24) and Derwent Art Prize (2022), been selected for the RA Summer Exhibition (2021), won the Mervyn Metcalf Purchase Prize at the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition (2021), and was awarded a special commendation at the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize (2020). His work is held in the UK Government Art Collection and private collections in the UK, USA and China.

Original Art by James Robert Morrison

Artist Statement

James’ work reflects on the experience of discovering his sexuality and his journey to understanding, accepting and valuing it. Since returning to his practice in 2019, his focus has been on a new body of work with two key threads  - personal experience as subject matter and the referencing and reappropriation of a personal archive of gay porn secretly collected during his teenage years when he felt pressured into hiding his true sexuality. James recalls: “At that time, these magazines were the only place I could see representations of intimacy between men. This was pre-internet and when anti-gay sentiment was at its peak in the UK following the HIV/AIDS pandemic and introduction of the notoriously homophobic legislation - Section 28 of the Local Government Act. There was virtually no queer representation or visibility, and if you did happen to find some, it was certainly not positive”.

From drawings on cigarette papers, to paintings and collages embellished with embroidery - James approaches his use of media in a playful way with complete openness, whilst consistently maintaining a quality and cohesion. The intimate subject matter, combined with personal archival material, allows him to present work which has a touching and nostalgic narrative, normalises non-heteronormative identities, and, importantly, starts to fill the void of positive queer representation and visibility, that he, and so many other members of the queer community, did not experience during their formative years.

Original Art by James Robert Morrison

‘There is never more than a fag paper between them’ Series

The artist overheard a teenager describing a gay couple as “never having more than a fag paper between them”. Inspired by this and the play on words (in the UK, ‘fag’ is a colloquial term for a cigarette, before being a homophobic slur), James has created a series of drawings portraying couples from his personal archive of gay porn magazines on the unique and challenging medium: fag (cigarette) papers.

Original Art by James Robert Morrison