SMART, IRONIC AND OFTEN ALLUSIVE, JAMES SPRINGALL'S ANALOGUE COLLAGES WILL STRIKE YOU FOR THE METICULOUS AND CURIOUS RESEARCH BEHIND THEM AND FOR THE UNEXPECTED JUXTAPOSITIONS OF IDEAS, HISTORICAL MOMENTS, CONTEXTS AND MEANINGS. AFTER "IN THE END TO ALL THINGS WILL BE KNOWN", IN WHICH FORTUNE COOKIES' MESSAGES ARE GIVEN A (FUNNY AND AMBIGUOUS) MEANING THROUGH THE MATCH WITH IMAGES OF ALL SORTS, FROM THE EROTIC TO THOSE NATURALISTIC, SPRINGALL GOES FROM DEALING WITH SUPERSTITION TO EXPLORING ANOTHER MAIN THEME WHICH HAS ALWAYS FASCINATED MANKIND AND SOCIETY. THE ARTIST'S LATEST SERIES, "THE ANCIENT ART OF BEAUTY", SEARCH FOR A COMMON DENOMINATOR OF BEAUTY, WHICH HAUNTS US SINCE THE ORIGIN OF HUMANITY, AND HE DOES SO BY COMBINING FASHION EDITORIALS AND MAKEUP ADS FROM 1980S GLOSSY MAGAZINES WITH ARTEFACTS AND ANTIQUITIES, STOLEN FROM ARCHAEOLOGY BOOKS. WE REACHED HIM TO DISCOVER HIS INSPIRATIONS AND THOUGHTS, AND TO FIND OUT HIS DEFINITION OF BEAUTY
Tell us a bit about your artistic background. How did you first get into collage art?
I made collages when I was studying art and graphic design at school many years ago. Then I found work copywriting and art directing for advertising agencies and it fell by the wayside until I returned to it around 4 years ago.
What inspires you?
Maybe it’s a cliche, but life. Just day-to-day life. The absurdity, mundanity and heart-wrenching beauty of it all.
Your collages are often imbued with a sense of humour and breeziness, but they also reflect on society’s standards and offer a soft critique towards them. How would you describe your aesthetics?
Well, I want to offer a critique, yes, but to do it in a way that is uplifting. That’s hard, but that is my goal. To observe and pass comment, but not to get into the murky waters of making art that is dark and depressing. Aesthetically, I’m aiming for perfect imperfection.
How did the idea for the series “The Ancient Art of Beauty” come about?
From being bombarded with images of what beauty is supposed to be and wanting to react against them.
The series comprises 1980s super glam shots along with ancient artefacts. Where did you find the images featured in your collages?
I found the books in a second-hand bookstore in Bath, England. I’m always looking for images. At the heart of any interesting collage are interesting images.
What’s the message you want to convey?
That beauty is eternal and can be many things.
Working on this series sure brought you to explore the whole idea of beauty and its evolution. How do you think the concept of beauty changed throughout the centuries?
Throughout the centuries? If we had the time here, I could try and write an essay on that subject but, essentially, I think it’s fair to say we have always been fixated on it in one form or another.
Today we talk about beauty a lot – about how beauty standards are ever changing and about how even the fashion industry is starting to recognise beauty in all its forms. How do you think the internet and the social media in particular helped to shape this new mindset?
The internet and social media have democratised things. It’s allowed us to be privy to many more people’s different interpretations of beauty. That is, of course, a very positive thing.
What’s your creative process like?
Source images. Daydream. Make images.
Are you working on any new project or are you planning any exhibition lately?
I’m working on some larger scale collages, talking to curators, and hoping to exhibit in London, Copenhagen and LA this year.
What’s your personal idea of beauty?
A cloud floating by. Which, thinking about it, is a pretty good metaphor for the often perceived transient, fleeting nature of human beauty.
Photo Courtesy of artist