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Backwoods Gallery, Melbourne – July 2019


James Dodd’s upcoming exhibition continues his investigations into the inherent creativity of our suburbs, alleyways, and yards.  He is particularly interested in the creative impulses tied to DIY, power tools and the domestic.  Dodd celebrates cultures of fixing, adapting and making-do, leaning into the notion of the ‘kludge’ – a term to describe a quick solution that might be clumsy, inelegant, inefficient or hard to maintain.  The Kludger invests in this context as a place to play and to elevate objects, actions and outcomes from this to be considered in the strata of the art world.

Backwoods is excited to present the latest iteration of Dodd’s Painting Mill project.  Revolving around a kind of mutant power tool contraption that appears as if it has tumbled out of a garden shed, this seemingly ramshackle conglomeration of bikes, drills and remote controls is used as a key component in the act of painting.  The process is thrown open as a kind of performance as the artist wrestles with the unwieldy device, exploring outcomes that both give in to and embrace the limitations of the machine. The paintings consecutively emphasize machine-like marks, resist the rigidity of digital processes and chase painterly viscera.

This project was supported by the Government of South Australia via Arts SA.


James Dodd has fostered a practice that straddles both gallery and public outcomes.  Early years spent marking and roaming the alleyways of Melbourne morphed into collection of scrawled graffiti and imagery as components for paintings, shifting again into a specific interrogation of distinct scrawl from Australia’s Top End.  A youth spent riding BMX and doing skids, followed by years of wrenching in bike shops is the bedrock on which the artist shows us freak bikes, tall bike adventures and pedal powered tinnies.  Adaptation, disassembly and disrepair as an everyday experience form the baseline of his embrace of cobbling things together and making things work.  It is James Dodd’s continued sifting through his experience to examine his own creative impulses and those inherently shared across communities that drive a radical curiosity and a constantly evolving visual arts practice.