b. 1986, Mildura
Lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia
James Tylor (Possum) was born in Mildura, Victoria. He spent his childhood in Menindee in far west New South Wales, and then moved to Kununurra and Derby in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in his adolescent years. From 2003 to 2008, James trained and worked as a carpenter in Australia and Denmark. In 2011 he completed a bachelor of Visual Arts (Photography) at the South Australian School of Art in Adelaide and in 2012 he completed Honours in Fine Arts (Photography) at the Tasmanian School of Art in Hobart. He returned to Adelaide in 2013 and completed a Masters in Visual Art (Photography) at the South Australian School of Art. James currently lives and works in Adelaide.
James’ artistic practice examines concepts around cultural identity in Australian contemporary society and social history. He explores Australian cultural representations through his multi-cultural heritage, which comprises Nunga (Kaurna), Māori (Te Arawa) and European (English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Iberian and Norwegian) Australian ancestry. James’ work focuses largely on the 19th century history of Australia and its continual effect on present day issues surrounding cultural identity in Australia.
James’ artistic practice specialises in experimental and historical photographic processes. He uses a hybrid of analogue and digital photographic techniques to create contemporary artworks that reference Australian society and history. The processes he employs are the physical manipulation of digital photographic printing, such as the manual hand-colouring of digital prints or the application of physical interventions to the surfaces of digital prints. James also uses the historical 19th century photographic process of the Becquerel Daguerreotype with the aid of modern technology to create new and contemporary Daguerreotypes. Photography was historically used to document Aboriginal culture and the European colonisation of Australia. James is interested in these unique photographic processes to re-contextualise the representation of Australian society and history.
IN THE SHADOWS
Multi-disciplinary artist James Tylor combines historical and contemporary photographic processes to explore his Nunga (Kaurna Miyurna), Māori (Te Arawa) and European (English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch and Norwegian) ancestry.
‘Turrangka...in the shadows’ unites a decade of Tylor’s practice and, for the first time, brings together the most comprehensive selection of his unique daguerreotypes, expansive digital photographic series, hand-made Kaurna cultural objects, and furniture. The exhibition title is drawn from a Kaurna word, highlighting a significant ongoing aspect of Tylor’s practice: the learning and sharing of his Indigenous language. As well as shadow, turra also translates to reflection, image, and mirror.
At the core of Tylor’s practice is a continuously innovative programme of photographic intervention, disrupting
the image to redact or highlight visual information. He systematically alters the reading of Country by excising information from the photographic print or inscribing language and place-names onto the surface of his daguerreotypes.
These photographs provide a glimpse into Tylor’s broader practice of recreating Kaurna cultural artefacts, architecture, and ephemera. Antiquated analogue photographic processes including Becquerel daguerreotypes and hand-tinting are also used to generate a new archive of pseudo-historical images. Tylor’s recreations point to the absence of these images from the hegemonic depiction of colonial Australia’s visual history.
These strategies are at the service of exploring the suppression and erasure of Aboriginal cultural history from the Australian landscape through the ongoing legacy of colonialism. Tylor considers his actions of learning Kaurna language and reviving culture on Country as a means of repatriation. ‘Turrangka...in the shadows’ looks at the complex interplay of techniques and the incisive observations on Australia’s fraught history that characterise Tylor’s prolific and profound artistic practice.
YARTA SERIES / 2017
This series explores my connection with Kaurna yarta* (Kaurna land) through learning, researching, documenting and traveling on country. Turalayinthi Yarta is a Kaurna phrase "to see yourself in the landscape” or “landscape photography”. In a two year period I travelled over 300 km of the southern part of the Hans Heysen trail that runs parallel along the Kaurna nation boundary line in the Mount Lofty ranges. Combining photographs and traditional Nunga**designs to represent my connection with this Kaurna region of South Australia.
The Heysen trail runs through the Mount Lofty and Flinders ranges from Cape Jervis in the south to Wilpena pound in the north. The Heysen trail named after the renown German Australian colonial landscape painter Sir Hans Heysen. The 1200km long trail passes over many different Nunga nations such as Ramindjeri, Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna, Peramangk, Ngadjuri, Adnyamathanha, and Nukunu lands. I have attempted to acknowledge these Nunga nations throughout this series with traditional language and design.
The photographs of the landscape document different regions, and environments of Kaurna and the surrounding Nunga region. Painting over the European medium of photography with ochre, pipeclay and charcoal with Nunga designs to represent Nunga people’s intellectual, spiritual and physical connection with yerta (Country). The ochre and charcoal on the photographs is a physical presentation of the landscape on the photographs.
My Nunga Kaurna family has been in the region of South Australia for 65,000- 80,000 years and has a rich cultural connection to this land. It is a great honour for me as a Kaurna person to learn, practice and walk in my ancestors footsteps. This series acknowledges and pays respect to Nunga people and their rich cultural, spiritual and physical connection to this landscape of South Australia.
ACT LIKE A MAN / 2017
Act Like a Man is an exhibition of new daguerreotypes by James Tylor examining traditional masculinity in contemporary Australia. His practice examines concepts around cultural identity in Australian contemporary society and social history. Tylor’s multi-cultural heritage – Aboriginal, Maori and European – is a focus of his artwork, which recognises the profound impact of colonisation and migration.
“In mainstream society, there are many stereotypes of male masculinity that determine how men are meant to behave. A man in Australia is expected to be strong physically, curb emotions, have children, a job, drive a car, own a house and behave in a certain way. These pressures can be enormous and without support and guidance it is easy to understand how things can go awry.”