Meet the Artist: James Alfred Hart

Meet the Artist: James Alfred Hart

An old time friend of the brand, we’ve brought back artist James Alfred Hart for another collaboration: birdsong x JAH. We worked with James to print his bold abstractions into wearable works. 

Informed by joy, memory and place, James sources rare inks and pigments from his travels. These memories are then translated onto canvas on his return. From Indian inks to indigo and luscious pigments from Brazil, you can now bring one of his works home to own. 

To celebrate this collaboration, we asked James a few questions, so we can all get to know the artist and the artworks behind the tees. 

What are the names of each piece and what were they inspired by?

I'll talk you through them! 

This one is called Indian Truck. In India travelling around the trucks are quite heavily painted and really vibrant. It’s part of a two panelled canvas and is a celebration of different colours, of Indian Pigments and Japanese ink mixed together. I sourced the pigments from India, found in Delhi and have mixed them all together.

This is called A Night in September. The process was different to painting the first one, a much slower more meditative process, by pouring the paint onto the canvas and letting it dry and building the layers up. It’s not created by brush, but with Indian pigments. The composition is completely spontaneous. 

Black Dress IV is from a series of 4 canvases, painted very quickly and spontaneously by the act of pouring paint onto the canvas. 

What are the themes running through your work?

Place and memory. Quite nostalgic, but I’m thinking into the future as well, dreaming of what could happen. My paintings can also be inspired by love and friendship, and how you feel about a place. Especially going to places like India and Brazil, these are places that helped me understand colour more. 

We see colour as a fascinating and profound thing and your work radiates with the joy of that. The colour in your work is carried by a movement and energy that, for every line or stroke, is different each time. It's as if the stroke or texture you use is the language/mood in which the colours speak. So we wanted to ask, what's your relationship with colour? Does it change? 

I like the idea that your relationship with colour changes with your mood. I don't set out to paint anything in particular when I have a canvas, I just paint. I think colour controls me in that way- it gives me the sense of direction. I think that by going to such vibrant places, it gives me confidence to put colours next to each other, because they’re quite intense and they radiate off each other. So to do something Monochrome and a bit darker (eg: Black dress IV) is unusual, but my work changes depending on my mood and what has inspired me.

What's your favourite piece of the Birdsong collab?

My favourite piece is the Black Dress IV. It shocks me a bit compared to what I’m normally used to expressing with brushstrokes. I love Indian Truck as it's so vibrant and it’s a celebration- there are so many pigments. But Black Dress IV, as a series of four together, I had so much fun painting it. The experience went by too quickly! The pigments are actually indigo, it has a real depth and contrast, or balance. Mixing it with water or mixing it with resin gives different effects and textures within the same surface.

I’d probably most likely wear a night in September, especially with the negative spaces, the flow at the bottom right and the sharp corner on the top left reminds you it is or was once a painting.

What will you wear it with?

It would be cool with a suit. I've got a blue wool suit… Or in the Summertime it would be good with  smart trousers or shorts. Most likely, I will end up painting in it and getting some extra paint on it!


What things do you enjoy about working with Birdsong?

We’ve worked together before in the past and I like the materials you use. Your fabrics are really nice. How we did it before - by hand printing - that was really attractive and I was curious this time to see how the shirts would turn out with the digital printer. I am really pleasantly surprised. The effect is really soft and subtle, I like how the detail is kept on these three paintings. I just love what you do, you’re trying to change things up and challenge things and also not do too much of one thing. 



Shop the birdsong x JAH collaboration, along with the Birdsong Classics

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