James Bland NEAC

Artist Statement

James Bland is a figurative artist who enjoys the surprises and the surrender of control that oil painting uniquely offers. Memory, folklore and dreams are the main subjects of his work and his paintings offer tantalising glimpses of narratives alongside the rigorously-observed depictions of light and form.


Method of Working

James paints in oils but first develops his ideas in sketchbooks before setting up his compositions in the studio with models and homemade props. As they progress, his paintings move away from being purely from direct observation towards memory and imagination, which is where the full range of influence is felt, from traditional Asian art to mediaeval manuscripts to children’s drawings.

He revises his paintings substantially, giving them latitude to change and depart from the original motif - a method inspired by Giorgione and Georges Braque. Objects, locations and figures might painted out or in, canvases re-stretched and colour schemes completely altered. The alchemy of this unpredictable process is what gives each painting its unique character and excitement.



2000-05 Studied at Canterbury Christchurch University


Scholarships, Awards & Prizes

​2017 Illuminations, Lilford Gallery, Canterbury, solo exhibition
2017 Honouring the Legacy of David Park, Santa Clara University, CA, group exhibition
2017 Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Mall Galleries, London, group exhibition
2017 Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize, Mall Galleries, London, group exhibition
2017 A&I Artist of the Year, Mall Galleries, London, group exhibition
2016 Semblance, Dukes Gallery, Dorchester, group exhibition
​2015 Doreen McIntosh Prize, New English Art Club
2014 Runner-up, Visitors’ Choice Award, Threadneedle Prize
2013 Work collected by Borchard Collection, Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize
2013 1st Prize Winner, Winsor & Newton Oil Painters Awards
2007 Janet Konstam Travel Award
2007 Artist in Residence, Centro Verrocchio


Past Exhibitions

2016 ‘Still, Not Static’, Thompson’s Galleries, London
2015 Solo Exhibition ‘Letting Light In’, Lilford Gallery, Canterbury
2015 ING Discerning Eye, exhibiting as a specially invited artist, Mall Galleries, London
2014 Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize, Mall Galleries, London
2014 Threadneedle Prize, Mall Galleries, London
2013 Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize, King's Place, London