Black and white portrait of Olly James


Olly James was born in Manchester in 1948.  As a talented artist and a gifted communicator, she decided to study teacher training at Bolton College of Art before concentrating on a Fine Art and Graphics course.  After working in Graphics in London and Manchester for three years Olly moved to London to concentrate on theatre design.

In 1999, after 30 years as principal set designer and painter for many major West End shows, Olly decided to become a freelance scenic artist and develop her own work. Although Olly is still enticed back to the theatre for special occasions, she now spends most of her time pursuing her first great love of painting. Olly teaches part-time as a way to pass on her knowledge and skill in set design.

Since making the transition to full-time artist, Olly has found much success. She already has many celebrity collectors including Timothy Spall and Alison Steadman and has held five solo exhibitions, all of which have been sell outs. She cites the work of Toulouse-Lautrec as a powerful influence during her formative years, but latterly it has been the dissolving forms of Turner and his all-embracing skies that have inspired her. Olly openly admits to having "a passion for the sky"; like Constable before her, she is fascinated by its constantly changing nature and infinite colour variations. Her published pieces explore the relationship between light and shadow, and their atmospheric tones have captured the imagination of collectors around the world.

"Many of the designs I realised both for myself and other designers involved a process of building up layers of colours, and sometimes textures and light.  I became obsessed.  Sky became a constant source of inspiration and continues to be a perfect subject for the process."

The award winning actor Timothy Spall is a collector of her work and whilst seriously ill in hospital,found one of her skyscapes enormously supportive in his healing process. Last year she asked Tim to collaborate on a series of portraits.The images she produced delighted him and in February 2006 'TEN OF TIM' become her fifth successful and most original solo exibition.


1993 - Solo exhibition "25 Skies" at The Mottely, Shelton Street, London W1.
1996 - Solo exhibition "21 Skies" on Maklin Street, London W1.
2000 - Solo exhibition "13 Sky/Sea Scapes" at Tullo Marshall Warren, Kings Road, London SW34NX.
2002 - "Fusion" at Acute Angle Gallery, Morely Street, SW1. A Three Women Show.
2004 - Solo exhibition "Skies And Reflections" at Take 5 Studio, Beak Street, London W1F.
2006 - Solo exhibition "Ten Of Tim" at Take 5 Studio, Beak Street, London W1F.

The Murals:

In 2004, the head teacher of Newlyn Infant and Junior school in Cornwall invited Olly to design and paint the internal walls of the infant staircase with the help of 200 children.  In 2006, the head teacher asked Olly to return to to design and paint five external walls.






Works in Progress


Copyright © 2006 Olly James. All rights reserved.

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