Artist Profile: Sadie James
Sadie James, an award-winning artist based in regional Western Australia, has spent the last 12 years capturing the mesmerizing beauty of the Ningaloo Reef and the Gascoyne region through her diverse artistic practice.
Sadie has embarked on a remarkable artistic journey that combines her love for nature, the ocean, and creative expression. From her early days as an art teacher to becoming a full-time artist, Sadie’s passion for art and her deep connection to the Australian landscape have shaped her unique artistic practice.
With two galleries in Coral Bay and Exmouth, Sadie showcases her talent across various mediums, including paintings, homewares, children’s books, and film projects.
We were lucky enough to speak with Sadie and get her to share the story of her artistic journey with us, her creative inspirations, her aspirations for the future, and tell us about what she’s currently working on.
RAWA: Tell us about your journey to becoming an artist and then an art teacher.
Sadie: Being an artist is my default mode, but it’s taken me a long time to accept that. As a child, I was always doing and making things, but it never seemed a viable career opportunity. However, I did persist in going down the practical art route in further education and undertook a degree in Fine Art, a PGCE in Art Education and an MA in Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins in London.
I have always worked part-time as an art teacher, whilst pursuing my own artistic practice, but it was not until I came to Australia that it became a full-time occupation. I really feel this is what I am meant to be doing.
RAWA: What made you decide to emigrate to Australia? Was the Gascoyne region your first choice?
Sadie: I specifically emigrated to Coral Bay after it captured my imagination on a holiday in 2006, there was a process though, I came back several times got the idea for a children’s book, and then finally got residency in 2012. It continues to inspire me relentlessly. In another 20 years, I might be considered a local.
RAWA: Tell us more about your artform(s) and practice? And your own personal creative philosophies.
Sadie: My art practice is quite diverse really, working in a variety of disciplines including painting, printing, photography, ceramics, illustration, film and animation on a variety of scales. However, there is always a common thread, and that is the ocean, nature, the environment, and at the moment specifically the Ningaloo Reef and the surrounding ranges. I think my main mode of operation is that my ideas are bigger than my capacity, but I am always working to close the gap and I’m slowly getting there.
RAWA: I’ve read in your profile that you’re inspired by the landscape around you. Can you describe to us what sparks your creativity when you’re out in nature?
Saide: There is no doubt the minute I am out and about whether it’s underwater or out in the landscape there are little sparks of ideas, and thoughts that lead from one thing to the next. It is always a process. The alchemy of ideas is a bit of a mystery but that’s what makes it exciting.
RAWA: How does being in regional WA influence or impact your practice?
Sadie: I always say paradise has a price, at the end of the day you have to make a living and as artists, we are in competition with mass-produced art forms that to some make you seem overpriced, but that is the reality as living remotely is an expensive business. Also, there is nothing like living in a caravan for 10 years with it doubling up as an art studio to test your resilience, plus sand gets everywhere.
RAWA: You work in multiple mediums. Can you tell us about your process? I.e. when you want to create a piece about something, how do you decide which medium to work in?
Sadie: It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation, if I am working on a canvas I tend to create layers of paint and enjoy mark making that I feel best represents the textures and colours of the reef, but then if I’m working on something more product based then I have a tendency to be more stylized in its design. The starting point for everything though is a snorkel.
RAWA: What sets you apart from other artists? What do you consider to be your main point of difference?
Sadie: I am sure there are other artists that do this, but my experiences and what I am lucky enough to observe in nature translate to stories in my mind that need to be told through the different mediums I have as a library to drawer upon, whether it be in a painting, a film or a book, I feel I am preserving memories for other people who have visited the region, and who have had similar experiences. It all helps to showcase the importance of this region, and when something is important to you, you look after it. Only I can do it in my own way.
RAWA: What are you currently working on?
Sadie: I am just completing the last of a few large-scale public art projects, then I will be focusing on a new exhibition concept, and releasing a short film entitled Salt Medicine, about how the ocean makes you feel better. This will be the starting point of a new body of work exhibited in 2024. I am streamlining the business side of things to allow myself more time in the studio.
RAWA: How can the public/venues/presenters get in touch to either buy your work/book your show or engage your skills?
Sadie: There are a few ways you can stay in touch and explore my artistic endeavours. Firstly, if you’d like to follow my journey on Instagram, you can find me at @sadiejamesbubble. I’m also excited to announce that I’ll be launching a YouTube channel soon. Additionally, I’m revisiting my website to make it even better, so please bear with me while it’s being upgraded. In the meantime, you can reach out to me directly for commissions and purchases. For those interested in my work, you can find me on Facebook under “The Bubble.” Lastly, keep an eye out for an exciting new book by the end of the year titled “Puggle and The Humbug.”
RAWA: Anything further you would like people to know about you as an artist?
Sadie: No I don’t sleep, and yes I am tired (joking not joking)
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And check out her Linktree
Sadie was featured on RTR FM as part of her Artist of the Month feature. You can listen to the audio here.
Images by Renae Harvey Photography