With only a few more days to catch his Donkey Monolith show at the shop we caught up with James Green to ask him a few questions about his process, his music and of course... donkeys.1. There seems to have been a recent change in your printmaking from more traditional motifs towards more abstract imagery - is there any reason for this change?
I've had an interest in abstract art for a long time, but never had the urge to integrate it into my work, however recently I have been obsessing over Hepworth and Moore and I think that has tipped the balance somewhat. I still enjoy doing more figurative work, but it is nice to explore the freedom of abstract composition.
2. Where did the idea of the monoliths come from and were donkeys always going to part of this new landscape?
the idea initially came about when I was thinking about an older print I had made, called 'Blue Donkey Regrets The Adventure'. It is basically a print of a small donkey stuck up a mountain. the more I looked at the mountain the more it became a monolith, or some kind of abstract sculpture, so more recently i decided to push that idea further and make a series of 3D monoliths on which to base my series of prints. the donkeys were always part of the scheme, don't you worry.
3. We love the process involved in the making of these prints, which moves from 3D model making to the 2D print - is this the first time you've used modelling as part of your process? Will you employ it again?
Possibly, yes. I felt it very useful to understand the contours and the landscape of the monoliths having built them in 3D. I'd maybe like to make some proper 3D works too.
4. We're big fans of your Donkey Jukebox LP on Sonido Polifonico. There's a wistful melancholy about the music which seems to perfectly suit the idea of donkeys grazing on mountain slopes. How did you go about capturing that donkey-ness in sound?
Thanks! I seem to specialise in vague melancholia, however much I try to liven things up. The initial idea was literally music for a pub which was frequented by donkeys, not humans, so I wondered what music they might enjoy. something a little hazy, and mostly calm, perhaps. It was for an art installation a few years ago, where I took over part of a pub, filled it full of straw and weird music, plus loads of little wooden donkeys. this sounds a little odd, doesn't it?
5. This year we’ve worked with several people whose practice combines music and image. Is it tricky, as a working illustrator who makes his own music and plays with other bands and musicians to find a balance between the two? If you had to choose one path, which would you choose?
I'm not sure I could choose. sometimes I prefer one, sometimes the other. I've been involved with art and music for a long time now. I love record sleeves and poster design, and have always felt that sound and visual art go so well together, whether it be LP sleeves, projections, films or whatever. I love it when people involved in music, whether it be a label or artist, get the visual element just right. I'm thinking 4AD, Clay Pipe, Ghost Box, Factory.
6. Finally, repeated shop playings of your excellent single with Surf Muscle seem to have finally brought the sun to Leeds - are you going to be bringing out an LP any time soon? Also, what are you listening to in your studio at the moment?
Yes, we are entirely responsible! We are recording some new material soon, and thinking about another single before an LP. Watch this space. Currently listening to: Cate Le Bon - Reward, Scritti Politti - Cupid and Psyche 85, The Cure - Disintegration, Alex Rex - Vermillion