James R Ford is an artist whose varied practice includes drawing, assemblage, installation and film. His observative projects often feature play, chance or repetition, with resulting work being of an existential nature, incorporating humour and the everyday.
Redbush and Milk comprises of recent text-based works that consider themes of choice and fulfilment. The glue to the installation is tea, or more specifically Redbush and milk (Ford’s tea of choice), and the idea of the act of tea drinking being used for both relaxation and discussion/contemplation.
Have you ever had a tricky situation or decision that needed some thought? In British TV soap operas in particular, whenever there is a crisis a character always suggests that they “have a nice cup of tea and a sit down”. At the centre of the exhibition, Ford’s large-scale flowchart All choice leads to a nice cup of tea and a sit down ironically demonstrates that tea can be the answer to every situation. Albert Camus once said about the importance of decision making: “Life is a sum of all your choices” and the drinking of tea in this context can be a simple metaphor for taking time out to consider things.
‘Performance of one kind or another is central to much of Ford’s work; whether the performing body is the artist’s own, that of a stand-in, or the audience themselves. In 2010 he staged an event where members of the public were invited to aid him in destroying his cursed Nissan Primera; another project bore the instructive title 33 things to do before you’re 10 (2007-2009); and an earlier work saw the invention of a new home based sport, House Gymnastics.’ (Lily Hacking, Curator, City Gallery Wellington, 2012)
James R Ford (b. 1980, UK) studied at Goldsmiths College in London and currently lives and works in Wellington. Ford has exhibited widely in public and private institutions throughout New Zealand and overseas, and in 2013 was winner of the inaugural Tui McLauchlan Emerging Artist's Award from the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. In 2012 Ford curated a national touring exhibition of contemporary male artists based in NZ, entitled Never Mind the Pollocks, featuring creatives who employ intellect, keen observation and a lightness of touch in their work.
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