So far, we have shared with you an insight into the artistic process of 9 of our talented artists.
In this final instalment, we showcase the process and artistry of Jim Starr and Zhu Yu.
Jim Starr studied at the Chelsea College of Art, and completed his degree at Kingston University. Having been based in London and Bristol, Starr feels he is an urban artist who is enduringly drawn back to the natural world, as he now lives and works in a remote corner of Exmoor National Park, close to his cherished birds. Starr’s obsession with drawing and painting birds started early, and he has always painted them during a 25-year career. As a child on the Somerset levels he would search for Marsh Harriers. Family holidays took him to Norfolk for avocets, Scotland for ospreys, and Cornwall for migrants and rarities.
These early adventures in bird observation and painting led to later roles as Expedition Artist in the US, Svalbard, Lesotho, and Iceland. He has also sketched and studied birds on trips to the Pakistan Himalayas, the Gambia, Tanzania, Norway, and the Canaries. ‘I joined the RSPB and junior bird clubs at the age of seven. I devoured every guide and reference book I could get my hands on, from Audubon and Peterson to Tunnicliffe and Thorburn’. Even today, Starr spends a significant proportion of his time searching for his feathered friends in the field, whether that be British, European, African or American subjects. He is always excited about the next discovery, enthralled by their variety and beauty, but also frustrated with their ability to just take off and vanish into the closest thicket or just over the horizon.
Buzzard Study 2020
acrylic and mixed media on canvas.
hu Yu was born in Liushi Town, China in 1981. She graduated from the Video Art Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts of China in 2008, and now splits her time and work between Beijing, Wenzhou and Europe. Zhu’s principal mediums are video, installation and photography, with ‘moveable maps’ being her current artistic orientation. Her social upbringing, interpreted as a meridian, acts as a coordinate with Liushi being her latitude of cognnition. The artist says her works resemble the search for markers and the re-labelling of them in a misty forest. In Liushi 90% of the residents are engaged in manufacturing electrical appliances which are exported around the world. The ideological mindset of this community has undergone enormous change over the years, but this special geographical environment regularly triggers sensitive emotions for Zhu Yu, and her artistic motifs often portray the rapid industrialization, the masses, and the children’s misplaced memory of factory production lines in the city.
Zhu’s departure from reality, the void and the passive, allow her to analyse their historical roots and the current mechanical and networked/digitised shadows, or the reversal thereof. The questioning of human beings as either individuals or collectives clearly appears in her voice-based work ‘Nobody is Somebody’. Through the substitution, repetition, and iteration of the subject and the object in this sentence, Nobody and Somebody constitutes an endless inquiry into identity and power, and even questions a more ontological analysis of existence. More often than not, the artist avoids resorting to language or texts in her works. Instead, she places her body in an external environment as a way of radically juxtapositioning and extending their meaning.