Craig James | Ruby

Craig James, BFF, 2019, digital pigment photograph on Hahnemühle 310gsm Rag, 89cm x 61cm

In a perfect moment of serendity I met Ruby and artist Craig James via the 2019 Queensland Regional Art Awards (QRAA), facilitated by Flying Arts Inc – the 40+ year old arts organisation that does so much for regional artists and their communities.

I’d seen the above piece by Craig in the on-line finalists exhibition and hoped to make contact. “Ping” sounded the email bell, back in early February, with a fun and friendly intro from Ruby and Craig. It turns out we’d chosen the same day for a pop-up residency in the QRAA Touring Exhibition in Brisbane! What? I know. 😀

The three of us met up in our fancy pants/jackets at the QRAA opening on a warm summer Saturday, and then spent a rainy Monday in the Pop Gallery in Brunswick Street—amongst the beautiful works in the QRAA Touring Exhibition State of Diversity—watching through the windows as humans walked, ran and shuffled by. What a great opportunity, to work in that space and meet this pair. Thanks Flying Arts Inc.

In this project my hopes to talk about the impacts of animals in our lives starts with Ruby and Craig. Ruby FOUND Craig, and it’s beautiful to see his life is rich as a result. It’s not my story to tell, but his exploratory and extraordinary work will always speak for him, and HAH! I’m grateful to Ruby for letting me hang out with Craig. She is his first filter. Thanks for joining the project you two! See Craig’s works here at his website.

Craig, what is your art practice?
As I live and work with an assistance canine my practice involves exploring human and canine relationships. I often work with Ruby outside in the environment, creating science inspired sculpture work as well as documenting our unusual lifestyle by way of photography.

Who is your studio companion?
Ruby, 7 years of age, Border Collie Cross, and accredited PTSD assistance canine and my best friend ever!

What are you working on in your studio now?
Looking microscopically at the similarities of both Ruby and my bacterial DNA. I’m also trialing eye tracking, GPS and audio data to add an additional layer to my current landscape working methods. By adding these additional concepts I feel I can give a more nuanced visual response to what its like to live and work with an assistance canine in the 21st century.

How has the current imposed isolation changed what you’re doing? Has something really surprised you during this transition to ‘artist in quarantine’?
As I live in social isolation due to PTSD symptoms nothing has changed much really… because of this I have been able to help others with the social isolation transition which is a welcome change.

Any special news about your art practice?
A disability/technology based self portrait of both Ruby and I (BFF) was chosen to tour in the 2020-2021 QRAA State of Diversity touring exhibition. As I am currently nearing the end of my Fine Arts Degree I was awarded The Curtin University Vice-Chancellor’s Award. Being recognised by my peers inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing. What made it truly special was that my assistance canine was awarded the same honour and wears her award lapel proudly on her coat whenever we are out and about.

(Ed: I know, right? What an achievement for Ruby and Craig, and what a progressive gesture by The Curtain University.)

Meeting Ruby and Craig at our Pop-Up Residency day in February
All fancy for the opening of the Queensland Regional Art Awards touring exhibition.

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