James painting on the MI6 building, London

Spectator 19.2.11

  
 

A YEAR WITH MI6 THE BRITISH SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE

2009 was the centenary year of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). To mark the occasion they invited James behind their closed doors and into the secret world of espionage. The resulting series of paintings and drawings formed the subject of a selling exhibition ‘A year with MI6’, at Mount Street Galleries, London in 2011. The pictures represented an outsider’s unique interpretation of an existence that, for those who work in SIS, can often be dangerous and surreal.

It is highly unusual for anyone to be publicly associated with MI6, and in this respect an art exhibition about SIS was simply unprecedented. James had to work under strict conditions of secrecy, and was extensively vetted before being selected for the project.

The exhibition attracted international media coverage on radio, TV and in the broadsheets. This included items on the national BBC and ITV news, a documentary by CNN and an interview by Mark Lawson on Front Row, BBC Radio 4.

They (the paintings) are very good…..the images have a blurred, washed-out, down beat, quality reminiscent of Gehard Richter and Luc Tuymans.  Rupert Christiansen. The Telegraph, Arts Review 16.2.11

James Bond has finally been replaced by an image that is unglamorous as it is credible-an anonymous person, alone staring through the curtains of a hotel room, waiting and watching.  Ben Macintyre. The Times Newspaper 15.2.11

Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art

Waiting in the hotel room was illustrated by the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art, New York, in a lecture supporting their exhibition ‘A room with a view-The Open Window in the 19th Century’ 2011. The curator, Sabine Rewald, discussed how the motif of the window has historically been used in art and continues to be a vibrant subject matter for artists today.