Local artist hits new milestone with gallery opening
THE opening of the new Jet James Gallery at 12 Anzac Pde in Yeppoon this week signals another milestone for the award-winning artist and another stepping stone in the evolution of a man with many more aspirations for the future.
Setting up the new gallery last week, Mr James reflected on the path that ultimately brought him to the Capricorn Coast where he has won hearts and inspired many with his passion for art, youth development and community.
He said art was in his life from his earliest memories and it is the one solid element that sustained him through times of adversity and hardship.
"As a very young child I recall watching intrigued as my father painted in his studio. It was that exposure to the world of art that I grasped as my own, I suppose,” he said.
"My first real taste of the world of art was when I was aged seven and had wandered into the Western Australian State Gallery. I was mesmerised as I strolled around.
"For me, it just made the world seem a much bigger place. To this day I can still remember some of those works like it was yesterday.
"At 15 I was living with my step-parents in isolation on a huge cattle station near Julia Creek in Queensland. The place was barren, no trees and miles from anywhere. I attended Mount Isa school of the air and had little contact with the outside world.”
Mr James knew he wanted to be an artist and at that point, he turned to self-portraits to find himself, something he has continued throughout his life.
"Art helped me to learn more about myself and with some wonderful mentors who believed in me, and my work, it has been the guiding light in my life,” he said.
In grade nine, the budding entrepreneur was selling copies of comics he had created to school friends. Looking back, he said they were probably a little inappropriate but it was a sign of hope that his passion for art could evolve into a lifelong career path.
In grade 10 Mr James won the state Book Week competition with a drawing of a frog. It would be the beginning of many awards and accolades to come. Life would get harder for the young artist when he became homeless and had to find work and put himself through Year12.
Seeking a better life and wanting to be closer to his sister, he boarded a plane in WA and headed back to the east coast.
He flew into Rockhampton and headed straight for the backpacker accommodation. Ironically, his sister unexpectedly arrived just moments later.
That very afternoon Mr James enrolled in a TAFE Diploma in Visual Communication and was accepted after submitting some drawings he had done on the plane.
Since that time he has lived on the Capricorn Coast and Rockhampton. He has won many awards, pursued his love of art, delved into facilitating art workshops for youths and found a community that encouraged and embraced his passion for the arts.
Mr James said that in Central Queensland he had found a community he could call his own.
"Coming through a difficult childhood I have always craved a sense of belonging and have always wanted to help others to find an easier path,” he said.
"I still have many artistic aspirations for the future and I still dare to dream. That's something that I want to share with other young people and to be able to help motivate others and show them that it is possible.”
The Jet James Gallery will be open from 9am-5pm Wednesdays to Sundays.
The gallery houses many of Mr James' works as well as a large range of designer gifts.
It will soon have a dedicated space where established and emerging local artists can exhibit their artwork and locally homemade and designed goods.